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From: "LaWanna Blount, Ph.D." <>
Subject: [APG] Accreditation
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 10:36:17 -0800 (PST)


Accreditation in higher education is a complex, and a
confusing activity that most people do not clearly
understand. My goal in this short paper is to shed
some light on this concept and discuss Akamai
University in the milieu of unaccredited colleges.

In a nutshell, Accreditation is verification or a
confirmation that a college or school provides an
education that meets standards. Accreditation
legitimizes an institution to the public Students
that are enrolled in an accredited University are
eligible to receive Federal Financial aid, receive
credit transfers and upon graduation are more likely
to obtain jobs and advancement in jobs. (www,

The purpose of accreditation is to evaluate the
operations of an educational institution with
standards to ensure that quality education is being
provided in higher education. It is a yardstick with
which to measure our many universities and colleges.
Many unaccredited colleges and universities may be
operating with high standards, but may be too new to
be ready for an accreditation review. It usually takes
about 5-6 years before a college/university has their
infrastructure built up enough to apply to an
accrediting agency for an accreditation review. Also,
the financial outlay involved in an accreditation
review can be overwhelming.

An accreditation review is voluntary, stressful and an
expensive process, which is performed by private
accrediting agencies, which have been established for
the very purpose of reviewing and evaluating schools,
colleges and universities and some departments within
a college or university. The United States is unique
in this regard for private accreditation agencies are
responsible to maintain this accountability of
colleges and universities and the government and the
public relies on these agencies to provide this
service in the United States. Other countries depend
on their governments to provide the quality control
standards that U. S. accreditation agencies provide
in the U.S. In the early 20th century, before
accrediting agencies came into existence, the large
philanthropic foundations (Carnegie and Rockefeller
Foundations) served this function and if standards
were down, the funds were held up until things were
brought up to standard.

The Recognized Accreditors

When schools, colleges or universities are ready and
want to undergo an accreditation review they apply to
a particular accrediting agency of their choice. This
investigation can take up to 6 months or to several
years. There are many accrediting agencies. However,
not all of them are approved by the United States
Department of Education (USDE) and the Council on
Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The
accreditation agencies that are approved by CHEA or
the USDE are listed on the website of CHEA which can
be found at www.chea.org.

Since the advent of distance learning universities
many fake accrediting agencies have sprung up to
accredit the fake universities. Thus, these fake
universities can write on their brochures. fully
accredited and they state the fake accreditation
agency. They do this because they know that most
people do not understand about accreditation and the
recognized accreditation agencies. People should pay
attention by whom the institution is accredited. When
an institution claims accreditation the most important
aspect is by whom are they are accredited? As I will
explain below, there are recognized accredited
agencies and you should be familiar with those
recognized agencies.

The application fee for an accreditation review or
evaluation can run up over $10,000, There is an
application fee, an evaluation fee for each committee
member, a readiness assessment fee, which is done by
an independent agency evaluator to assist an
application institution in preparing the on-site
evaluation. In addition, there are subject specialist
fees for each course. The institution also is
expected to pay the travel and lodging fees for all
the accreditation committee. There are also other
incidental fees.

Some, not all, recognized accrediting agencies perform
a preliminary review to ensure that the institution
has legitimate operations and then may be given a
provisional status. This may take months and
sometimes years. (Bear and Bear, 2003, 41)

After making application, an institution receives the
visitation team on site for an evaluation of the
institutions operations and mission The accreditation
team thoroughly evaluates an institution’s operations
and mission, philosophy and total infrastructure. It
reviews all its documents; legal, financial, operating
policies, its long term and short term planning,
curriculum, student policies, theses, syllabi, student
files and has meetings with administrators, faculty,
students, staff and alumni.

These accreditation reviews may take months and
sometimes as long as several years. Some agencies
confer a school or college with a candidacy for
accreditation.These schools then are policed for
another year or so and if they fulfill the
requirements that are needed are granted full
accreditation. Some agencies do not include a
candidacy step and declare a school accredited or not
accredited (Bear and Bear 2003, 41).

After an institution is accredited there will be
inspections, about every five years in order to
determine that it is still maintaining the
accreditation standards in its operations. When an
accreditation team makes further visits to accredited
institutions new programs or changes in programs since
the prior accreditation review are also up for review.
In addition, if the institution has changed
management, or changed a site location for a
particular aspect of its programs, these aspects will
also be reviewed.

Accreditation by the recognized agencies that I will
specifically identify later in this paper is the only
way we currently have to identify those institutions
that are operating with quality standards. However,
currently, with the advent of distance education,
there are new accrediting agencies that are requesting
the approval of the USDE and CHEA.

However, it should be noted that the Carnegie
Commission on Higher Education (a non profit group
concerned with accountability in higher education at
the national level) in the early 1990s in speaking of
the future of accrediting agencies stated, accrediting
organizations will lose their usefulness and slowly
disappear. How can this happen? Already competency
tests are being developed at major corporations hiring
university graduates, soon major employers will be
following suit. In addition, the whole idea of
regional accreditation was developed in an era when
students flowed from a particular region to obtain
education; regional high schools serviced a
community college In that context the semester system
was the standard delivery system for higher
education. With distance education we have broken the
boundaries of these time and space parameters (Dunn,
2000, 35). Currently students access the same courses
and programs from anywhere in the world at anytime.
Distance education instructors work evenings and
weekends and through the year. Open admissions is
already the norm.

There are some colleges and universities that are new
and their operations are meeting the standards.
However, it takes about 5-7 years for a college or
university to develop its infrastructure and have
students graduate through its programs. Today it is
difficult for unaccredited colleges to obtain students
without accreditation. It is the catch 22 situations,
you cannot apply for an accreditation review unless
you have students and to obtain students you almost
need to be accredited. There are many quality
institutions that are not accredited. Every college
and university must start out not accredited.

With the advent of new technologies and the Internet
for distance learning, fake institutions are becoming
ever more prevalent on the eduscape, which brings many
problems and issues for higher education. However,
these have been with us for a long time. John Bear
(2003), who is considered the authority on distance
education and was part of the dip scam operation in
1970 -1990s, started to track and study distance
learning institutions since the 1970s and his
consecutive publication, Directory of Degrees by
Distance Learning is published every few years. He has
until the 15th edition listed the institutions of
which the fake owners were prosecuted. However, the
problem is that fake owners surface again after their
penalties are carried out and reestablish the schools
some place else and start all over again. Many of
these fake schools stated in their brochures that they
“are ready for accreditation” and other kinds of
statements such as they “are candidates for
accreditation” Some of these schools also set up their
own accreditation agencies. Thus, claiming they are
“fully accredited.” Apparently, there is a lucrative
market out there for people to keep on enrolling in
fake schools or there wouldn’t be so many of them.
States are tightening up their laws to drive these
diploma mills and fake schools out. Some states have
very tight laws. The state of Oregon is one state that
has strict laws governing the institutions of that

Recognized Accreditation agencies are very clear to
applicants for accreditation that they do not allow
them to make statements to students about their
activities and events preparing for an accreditation
review. A college or university is either accredited
or not accredited.

It is also important to understand that specialized
schools within a University often seek accreditation
by professional accrediting agencies. For example, the
American Bar Association, in the School of Law in
universities, or the American Medical Association
within a medical school. A university could be
accredited, as well as specific specialized schools by
professional accrediting agencies. These recognized
professional agencies are all listed with CHEA and are
on its website.

The Accreditation Agencies

All of the regional accreditation agencies, six
national accreditation agencies including DETC
(Distance Education and Training Council) and all of
the approximately 50 specialized and professional
accreditors are recognized and overseen by the CHEA
(Council on Higher Education Accreditation”)

The recognition by CHEA of regional, specialized and
professional accrediting organizations, affirms that
standards and processes of accrediting organizations
are consistent with quality, improvement, and
accountability expectations that CHEA has

To determine if an accreditor is recognized by CHEA go
website at www.chea.org/Institutions/search.cgm)) If
the college or accreditor isn’t listed then it is
likely that the school is not accredited by a
recognized agency (Bear 2003 p. 43).

The six regional associations that are approved by
CHEA have responsibility to accredit schools in one
region of the United States and its territories.

These six accrediting agencies are: North Central
Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest
Association of Schools and Colleges, Middle States
Association of Colleges and Schools, New England
Association of Schools and Colleges, Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western
Association Schools and Colleges, The postal and email
addresses and websites of these regional accrediting
agencies are all in Bears’ Guide to Earning Degrees
by Distance Learning (2003, 45).

There are two National Accrediting Agencies that are

These are:
Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and
Schools (ACISS)

Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

There are also Recognized Professional Accrediting
Agencies in specialized areas, which I referred to
previously, in the Arts, Dance, Landscape
Architecture, Continuing Education, Dentistry, Law,
Health and other specialized fields. All fifty of
these recognized specialized accrediting associations
are listed in Bear and Bear, 2003, 45-50 with
addresses, websites and phone numbers. However, there
are many accrediting agencies that are not recognized
under GAAP, the General Accrediting Principles. GAAP
means the Generally Accepted Accrediting Principles.
These are the policies that are accepted and
followed by the important people in accreditation such
as university registrars, admissions officers,
corporate human resources officers and government
agencies. These policies form the GAAP principles
(Bear and Bear, (2003, 45-50. )

The agencies not recognized by either the Council on
Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S.
Department of Education (USDE) nor by ministries of
other countries are listed in Bear and Bear (2003 on
pages 51 to 61.

Akamai University, an Unaccredited University in the
State of Hawaii

In the 1990s unaccredited colleges and universities
and distance learning universities were not regulated
at all in the state of Hawaii (Bear and Bear, 2003,
36) Thus, hordes of many fly-by- night fake distance
learning and post office box colleges flocked to the
state of Hawaii. There were many complaints and
international inquiries before the Hawaii Office of
Consumer Protection. In 1999 the legislature passed a
law, which called for the regulation of unaccredited
college and universities. Subsequently, the
University of Hawaii and other agencies submitted
legislation that resulted in a revised 446E. (Bear and
Bear, 2003,36), Among other requirements, any
unaccredited college needed at least 25 full-time
students during the year and one employee living in
Hawaii in order to remain in business. The state of
Hawaii oversees its unaccredited schools using Hawaii
Revised Statute HRS 446E- 2. Dr. Douglass Capogrossi,
The President of Akamai University, played an
instrumental role in the revision of the Statute, with
the disclosure disclaimer, as the state of Hawaii
wanted to throw out all unaccredited higher education
institutions. The law states that all unaccredited
colleges or universities must issue the following
disclaimer on all published advertising, print and

The statute HRS 446E-2 Disclosures…
a. Any unaccredited institution shall disclose in all
catalogs, promotional materials and contracts for
instruction, the fact that the institution is not
accredited by any nationally recognized accrediting
agency listed by the United States Secretary of
Education. The disclosure shall be made in a type size
as large or larger than any other text in the catalog,
promotional material, or contract for instruction,
excluding the name of the unaccredited institution,
and shall be presented in a manner reasonably
calculated to draw the attention of the reader. If the
unaccredited institution includes in its catalogs,
promotional materials, or contracts for instruction
any other information relating in any manner to
accreditation, or to accreditation by an agency not
nationally recognized by the United State Secretary of
Education, the disclosure required by this subsection
shall be repeated on every page on which the
information appear. Where the information is presented
electronically, the disclosure shall be made directly
preceding or following the information. The
disclosure shall read as follows: (Name of Degree
Granting Institution) IS NOT ACCREDITED BY AN
ACCREDITING AGENCY recognized by the United States
Department of Education.

b. Where promotional material for an unaccredited
institution consists of an advertisement in a
periodical published by a person or entity that is not
affiliated with the unaccredited institution, the
disclosure required in subsection (a) may be
abbreviated to state as follows: NOT ACCREDITED BY AN
EDUCATION. The disclosure required under this
subsection shall be made in a type size as large or
larger than any other text in the advertisement.

Without the revised statute unaccredited Universities
in Hawai would not exist.

In the paper I have set out some information to you
as members of the APG e-list, which should add to your
knowledge about accreditation. Further information
can be found in Bears’ guides. Their chapter on
accreditation is the best that I have ever read.

LaWanna Lease Blount, Ph.D.

Bear, John B., Ph.D. & Bear, Mariah, P., M.A.,
Bears’ Guide to Earning a Degree by Distance Learning.
15th ed. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2003.
Dunn, "The Virtualizing of Education", The Futurist.
Maarch-April, 2000, 34-38.

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