Accreditation is a status that must be earned every day. It is an increasingly desired asset, being valued in the millions of dollars because it saves opportunity costs for newcomers—who won’t have to wait for two years, provides instant consumer confidence, and opens the gate to Title IV Federal funds, military tuition assistance, G.I. Bill and corporate tuition plans.
Below are Standards and Policies DETC uses to ensure that accreditation is not compromised when it is initially granted to an institution, or when an accredited institution is sold to new owner. These are policies that aim to protect students, protect DETC institutions and protect the Accrediting Commission from those whose intentions in gaining accreditation are not in keeping with the historic traditions of DETC.
All or None Rule
This is a policy that holds that all distance study activities or companies of an ownership seeking accreditation must attain DETC accreditation, or none may be accredited. This guards against the possibility of a “diploma mill” operator from attempting to acquire an accredited institution.
DETC standards require “the institution’s owners, governing board members, and administrators possess sound reputations and show a record of integrity and ethical conduct in their professional activities, business operations and relations.” (Standard VI. A.)
Separate Directory Listing
The name of each separately advertised institution name or D/B/A is listed in the DETC Directory of Accredited Institutions. Consumers search for accreditation by institution name, not the name of the corporate owner. They look to see if the New York School of Writing is accredited, not if the school owner, Gotham Holdings, Inc., is accredited.
All institution ownerships must execute, under corporate seal, a formal document, Form E.9., Teach-Out Commitment/Corporate Entities. It is a legally enforceable contract with DETC whereby the corporation/ownership commits to provide every student in all of its divisions will have the opportunity to complete their studies, regardless of the corporation’s future circumstances, including withdrawal of accreditation or bankruptcy.
Letter of Financial Statement Validation
Derived from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, this is a letter signed by the CEO and CFO of each institution that certifies that (1) any material weakness in internal controls are known to the certifying officers, (2) any fraud involving management or employees have been disclosed, and (3) the certifying officers know of all significant changes in internal controls.
No Franchise Rule
The Commission does not permit an accredited institution to sell the rights to market using the institution’s name and programs by selling a “sales territory” to a third party franchisee. Franchisees have their own sales agents and engage in their own marketing efforts that are not under the immediate and direct control of the accredited institution.
An institution entering bankruptcy forfeits—automatically—its accredited status.
Control of Recruiters
Under the DETC Business Standards, an accredited institution has “full responsibility for the actions, conduct, statements and conduct” of its sales and recruitment staff. Each recruitment staff must sign—and the institution must keep on file—the DETC Code of Ethics for Student Recruitment Personnel. One sample excerpt: a recruiter must “Never use tuition assistance available from a government agency or other source as the primary inducement for enrollment.”
Use of Enrollment Incentives
A new (January 2010) DETC Business Standard, this states any incentives used to enroll prospective students must be of nominal value.
No Automatic Continuation of Accredited Status
When an institution is sold to another party, accreditation must be confirmed by the Commission following the new owners’ preparation of a full self study, and onsite committee review, and a favorable action by the Commission. In the interim, the new ownership must stipulate that no new programs, or significant changes in marketing tactics, will be used until they are reviewed and approved by the Commission.
Approval of New Programs
Before an accredited institution may enroll any students in a new program, the program must undergo a formal review using independent subject matter experts.
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