Every eight years, the University of Indianapolis has to prove to the Higher Learning Commission, an arm of the United States Department of Education, that it is a quality academic institution. The 2015-2016 school year marks a review of the university to renew accreditation. Executive Vice President and Provost Deborah Balogh explained exactly what the Academic Quality Improvement Program is.
“AQIP is one pathway to accreditation of institutions for higher learning that are affiliated with the Higher Learning Commission, which is the regional accrediting body for schools [of higher learning] in the Midwest,” Balogh said. “The pathway requires us to meet specific criteria for accreditation, federal compliance guidelines and AQIP standards as well.”
In short, AQIP is one way that the university can be accredited. According to 50states.com, “Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated.” Accreditation not only gives a stamp of quality from the DOE and HLC, but also allows the university to give government financial aide to students.
Along with distance cooperation with the HLC, there was a team of five HLC reviewers from different states across the country that visited campus to review the University of Indianapolis in person, according to Associate Vice President of Accreditation Mary Moore. The reviewers were on campus April 4-6 and attended a student meeting that was in UIndy Hall B on April 5. Moore explained who the reviewers are.
“They are other academics or administrators from other institutions,” she said. “No one comes to visit us from Indiana. Four of them are more academic, and one is more of an administrator, but they are all peers to this institute. [They are] people who are very familiar with our type of institution. They are trained reviewers for the commission. But also, they are people whose own institutions may be AQIP, too.”
Moore explained that AQIP is different than other pathways to accreditation because it requires quality improvement.
“It is as if you are identifying yourself as a continuous quality improvement organization,” Moore said. “[It is] saying, OK, we are not only a good quality organization, we want to be excellent quality; and we are going to keep moving forward and share with you how we are improving.”
Balogh also thinks that the AQIP pathway is the best path for the university.
“The benefit to having a continuous quality improvement is that throughout the eight-year accreditation period, it [the process] forces the institution to be continuously mindful of its efforts to improve….” she said. “There is a downside to writing a report every 10 years. The institution says to itself, ‘We have to get ready for accreditation again.’ And if there are problems that have occurred in the interim, it’s very difficult to remediate those problems.”
Balogh said that she does not expect any issues with renewing UIndy’s accreditation. The final reports will be written and the university will receive notification within a few months.