Interview with Leah Matthews, XD/CEO of DEAC

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by SteveFoerster, Jul 28, 2022.

  1. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  2. wmcdonald

    wmcdonald Member

    Thanks, I will review and look forward to it! Hope you're well!
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  3. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I knew there was a podcast for everything
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I wonder if she explains at some point why we need a DEAC for degree-granting institutions?
  5. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Maybe for schools like this, Rich - that DEAC accredited 3-4 weeks ago.

    One course: MA (Christian) Counseling Psychology ($15K)
    RA would be a difficult - or impossible leap for a one-course school, no matter how good. Cost is only one factor. Thanks, DEAC.

    There was another school, accredited in July. Solely Teaching Certificates in Hawaii. Another valuable, special-purpose school for which RA is likely far beyond the budget. And I imagine the financial standing requirements are also a bit more attainable for smaller schools, in the DEAC world, too.

    Thanks again, DEAC
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2022
    Michael Burgos and chrisjm18 like this.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

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  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    So, schools who cannot meet the fiscal requirements of regional accreditation can instead turn to an alternative with less rigorous standards? (The actual cost of becoming and remaining accredited isn't much different in the big scheme of things. It's the fiscal state of the school and where it gets its funding.) That would beg another question: is the RA standard unfair or is the DEAC standard inadequate? Or, instead, are we talking about two classes of accreditation (which I've always maintained)?

    That circle cannot be squared.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Good point. I was giving its high school and trade school operations a pass because I don't know those markets very well.

    • DEAC is redundant,
    • DEAC is second-rate, or
    • RAs are too rigorous
    This goes for all areas, not just finances. No one seems to be able to offer why DEAC fills a void, except for smaller, less financially stable schools. That doesn't sound so good.

    There was a brief time (the 1980s through the explosion of the World Wide Web near the end of the 1990s) when DEAC accredited some schools that couldn't get past their respective RAs because of their DL-only operations. But those days have been gone for a couple of decades. Who is served by ANY non-RA institutional accreditation of degree-granting schools anymore?

    I note that we're finally seeing schools move from DEAC to RA. That didn't happen for a VERY LONG time. And when they do, they drop DEAC accreditation. Why?

    I also note that no schools give up RA voluntarily in favor of DEAC accreditation. Again, why?

    None of this is meant as a criticism of DEAC. Just questioning its purpose anymore. But if these questions make some people uncomfortable, well that's worth asking "why" also.
    Bill Huffman likes this.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Title IV. Isn't that the only reason we need ANYTHING? And with $1.7 trillion in student debt outstanding, and bad default rates and outcomes in schools as they are, maybe accreditation isn't the answer.

    My recommendation - a Tertiary Education Czar/Czarina. Supreme judge of worthiness for higher ed. institutions.

    School passes: They get the key to the Funding Room.
    School fails: Operate without Title IV funding.
    School is deemed fraudulent: Burn it to the ground!

    This "Czar/Czarina" should be empowered by adequate legislation, have legal and administrative backup and a team of inspectors, who arrive unannounced, with the power to make instant, summary closures at time of site-visit, as they deem necessary.

    I can only think of one person who would qualify above all others. His name is Steve Foerster. :)
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    No circle can be squared - I learned that when I was about 11. I assume everyone here did, too. Here's the end result:
    There are exceptions, but many DEAC schools teach programs that are (generally) considerably less expensive than MOST RA schools.
    (Yes, I know Full Sail and some other niche DEAC schools are costly. Some of them teach what RA schools don't.) The cost (in most cases) is one good result of DEAC.

    So - students can get good degrees, - that work - by distance at a reasonable cost - if they don't want the Big 3, UMPI ASU route - and some don't.
    Take away DEAC and you'll take some really good schools out of the mix. You'd have a Switzerland-like system - impossible for a distance-only school to be deemed a University. Distance schools may award degrees there (legally) , but the degrees basically don't count - AT ALL.
    sideman likes this.
  11. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    OMG! Could someone closer to Ontario than I am please go check on Johann? :D
    Johann likes this.
  12. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    :) :)
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Why can't they be accredited by their respective regional association?
    I'm positive that offering degrees at a "reasonable cost" isn't a criterion for DEAC accreditation. Yet, we can see how they're often less expensive than degrees from RA schools. But there must be a reason for that, and it may not be a good one.
    I don't understand this. We have many--MANY--distance-only universities that are regionally accredited. None of that would change.

    Again, I see no reason for DEAC to exist. I've suggested one--as a specialized (not institutional) accreditor of distance learning programs. THAT would serve the public a whole lot more than its current state of redundancy (or mediocrity--depends on which argument one takes). They simply do not cover any unique ground.

    By the way, DEAC is the only recognized accreditor based on program delivery, not content. Again, unique for a little while, but no more. It would be like setting up an accrediting agency for residential schools, a Campus Resident Accrediting Program. (But DEAC has a better acronym!)

    This isn't an RA vs. NA point. This is a DEAC is either Redundant or Inferior point.
  14. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Well, as you alluded to, there's a third option that RAs may be too persnickety, and having seen VIU wrestle with a SACS application, it's possible I find that when it comes to institutional finances this is indeed the case.
  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I'll take your point re: Swiss system, Rich. I exaggerated. It is possible for a distance-only school to get RA - U. of the People will do that, in due time, I'm pretty sure. But DEAC was very handy in getting them a start. Both DEAC and UotP knew what they were doing. And both did a fine job.

    I don't think DEAC is redundant - or so inferior as to be unfit for use. There are Cadillacs - and there are Fords. Both cars will get you, reliably, where you need to go (we expect.) They don't cost the same; neither is one as luxurious as the other. That's not necessarily inferiority. Lack of functionality would make one car inferior. That's not in play. I think of RA as a Cadillac - DEAC as a Ford. Nice to have the choice. I think sometimes it would be nice to have a choice like RA vs. DEAC in Canada - but we don't. But we bumble along, somehow.

    Just read Steve's post. "Financial persnicketiness" is a VERY good reason to need a choice.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2022
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Of course, if someone offers you a nice clean Cadillac (that actually belongs to them) for the price of a Ford - that could be a game-changer. :) Same with degrees - not saying there aren't some bargains in RA-land...
  17. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Lower tuition prices used to be the big plus. It still is in a few cases where it's cheaper to get a certain degree from some DEAC schools than from practically every RA school, but those cases have lessened greatly over the years.

    No reason to hang on to two accreditors, especially when one has a higher perceived value by the public. Some of that perception is warranted however, because as we all know RA schools accept RA credits at a higher level than they accept NA credits. There are some other points, but I think we've all been over that enough the past 16+ years so I won't bore anyone with it.

    Perception. Even if the DEAC were actually a better accreditor in reality than one or more or all RA accreditors, it wouldn't matter because public perception doesn't see it that way and the DEAC can't win against that. But, it doesn't need to win either, as nearing 100 years successful operation is a pretty big win in and of itself.

    I feel like at least one of its purposes can be deduced from operations: smaller if not tiny schools with lesser finances getting an opportunity to rise. A number of those schools went from tiny strip mall offices to real international operations. Had they been relegated to remaining unaccredited due to not having the resources for regional accreditation, that likely would've never happened. But with it happening, more jobs were created, more people received an education, more people and their families received the opportunity to improve their lives and did so, and in some small way it had a positive impact on humanity.

    I think that's a pretty great purpose.
  18. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    What concerns me is how much this has diminished over the years. Once you get past the biggest DEAC schools with the most enrollments and cheapest prices that RA schools can't match (Ashworth, Penn Foster, Nations University, University of the People, United States Career Institute) you start to see some high prices popping up that are sometimes even higher than many RA schools.

    Last time I checked on Lakewood's price for an MBA I thought I was hallucinating. It was high. The kinda high you'd expect from a more well-known RA school.

    One of the things I've noticed is that the price increases from DEAC schools and the widespread change of DEAC schools moving to weekly-format classes seem to intersect. Makes sense though, because once you move to guided weekly classes where pedagogical interaction is necessary as opposed to the traditional DEAC method of independent study, you're going to need to hire more instructors and that in turn will likely mean higher operating costs. They have to make up for it someplace.
    Johann likes this.
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Indeed it's odd. The two lowest-price accredited MBA programs I know of are either RA or on their way. Hellenic American U - RA, cost $3,000 and University of the People - presently DEAC, and RA Candidate. Their site says you can complete their MBA in 15 months for $3,660. Are any other DEAC schools even close?
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Which means the RAs are too tough on some schools with thinner finances. That DEAC gets it right and the RAs impose unfair burdens on applicant schools. Sounds like THAT inequity needs to be addressed. (I know of one school currently working on its DEAC application because its RA said it would consider this small school, then pulled the rug out from under them.)
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