What the ACICS situation means for you

What the ACICS situation means for you


A big part of what we do here at Cyanna is helping institutions through the accreditation and reaccreditation process. So of course, we’ve been following what’s happening with ACICS pretty closely. Heard about it?

A short summary of the current situation:
The US Department of Education recently made a recommendation to end recognition of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting body. On June 23, 2016, NACIQI, an independent advisory board for the Department, voted in favor of the recommendation. Now, a senior official at the Department will make a final decision within the next few months, which ACICS can then appeal if they choose.

For more detailed info, check this Inside Higher Ed article from 6/24/16.

If you’re ACICS accredited, you may be wondering what this means for you. Our consulting group put together a few answers to questions we’ve been hearing.

Do I have to do anything right now?
You have some time. Nothing is final yet, but if ACICS loses its recognition, you’re likely to have 18 months to find a new accreditor.

What should I be doing right now?
Start thinking about an alternate accreditor. If you had to choose one today, who would it be?

To find the right agency, we recommend thinking about the future of your institution. What’s your five-year plan? Identifying what is important to you now and moving forward will help inform your decision around a new accreditor.

When crafting your plan, ask questions like these:

  • If you’re a non-degree granting institution, are you considering adding degrees?
  • If you offer degrees, are you considering offering them at a different level or in a different subject area? Or maybe even online?
  • Are you considering expanding into new geographic locations by adding branch campuses?
  • Or are you happy with the way things are going, and have no plans to change?

Use the goals you’ve identified to start setting criteria for evaluating accrediting agencies.

How should I prepare for the possibility that ACICS may no longer be my accrediting agency?
Based on your goals and plan identified above, evaluate other accreditors (for example: ACCSC, ACCET, COE, DEAC, ABHES, COMTA, or even regional accreditors). Which agency’s standards meet your current business structure and allow you the flexibility to reach for your future goals?

How do I know which accreditor to pick?
Examine their mission, their standards, and the types of institutions they serve. Do those things feel like a fit for you?
Does the industry they serve align with your current offerings? Your possible future offerings?
Review their accreditation process and requirements. Are they achievable for you?

How and when should I notify students and alumni about accreditation changes?
Be transparent. Let students know what you’re doing to address the situation, and how it will affect them.

Chances are students may have already heard about it. Offer an update right now and continue communicating with students throughout the process. Non communication can make it look like you have something to hide.

You’ll want to reassure students that you’re doing everything you can to stay up to date on information released on the potential recommendation of de-recognition for ACICS and to prepare for the potential transition period to a new accrediting body. Let students know that for them, everything will be business as usual during this period, and that you will keep them informed of any important updates.


Need more advice? Not sure how to pick the best fit accreditation option? Let’s talk about it.

Let us show you what Cyanna can do for you.

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