Is the RA model comparable to the outside world?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by geoffs, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. geoffs

    geoffs Member

    In Canada we're getting a lot of new schools:

    -Meritus U
    -U.Canada West
    and now: University of Fredericton.

    Each has provincial authority but is not a member of AUCC (Canada's university watchdog). However this new school had an interesting comment on their website:
    "University education in Canada is the responsibility of each province, and not the federal government, and designation as a degree-granting university under a Degree Granting Act of a Province is equivalent in Canada to regional accreditation in the U.S." ​

    By that same logic would a school with State approval, say CCU which has programs "approved by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education for the State of California," now be considered equal to RA status?
  2. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Good observation and the answer is 'no'. I don't think that it's necessarily true in Canada either.

    Despite all the obvious simularities between our two countries, I don't think that forms of higher education recognition really translate straight across one-to-one.

    For one thing, Canada simply doesn't have prominent private universities in the American sense. There's no Canadian ivy-league, no equivalent of Stanford or MIT. Few countries have strong private university sectors. Japan has one I think, at least to some extent, but it's an exception.

    Canadian universities have historically been public provincially-run universities. What private institutions there were (mostly theological schools is my impression) were typically closely associated with one of the public universities, often awarding its degrees. It's only in recent years that Canada has been welcoming (albeit grudgingly) the appearance of a whole new collection of private degree-grantors, most of them small, poorly funded and proprietorial, emphasizing vocational degrees.

    And that in turn seems to have been putting a lot of stress on provincial education authorities who don't seem to have always been prepared to effectively police the new entrants. Some provinces seem to be scrambling to catch up, writing new regulatory legislation, while the role of the AUCC seems to be subtly changing from an association of more traditional universities into more of an American-style accreditor.

    My own layman's intuition, a rough rule-of-thumb, is that most Canadian provincial authorizations might be a step above most American state authorizations, but not exactly equivalent to RA either. More like ACICS or DETC perhaps. While the AUCC defines a class of school that's perhaps a little more mainstream and traditional than RA, at least at the low end, since it puts more emphasis on academic professor-stuff like doctoral programs and research. I can't imagine AUCC accepting some of the more jobs-related schools that the American regional accreditors have accredited.
  3. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    Universities in Canada grant degrees that are on par with degrees granted by universities in the United States with regional accreditation. I am not speaking to the new universities in Canada but the established publicly-funded universities. According to your rough rule-of-thumb my credit hours earned at two Canadian universities would never have been accepted by Thomas Edison State College. In case you missed the point, provincial authorizations for publicly-funded universities are not akin to DETC but are precise on par with RA.
  4. mintaru

    mintaru Member

    I really think it was BillDayson's intention to speak to the new universities in Canada, only, since all the established publicly-funded universities are also AUCC members. That combination, provincial authorization + AUCC membership is the real Canadian equivalent to RA. However, it's also possible that I'm the one who misunderstood him. His statement was quite unclear.

  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    We are agreed on that. I'll even go farther, and suggest that the weakest AUCC members might actually be stronger schools than the weakest RA members. I get the impression that AUCC might set the bar a little higher at the low end. At the high end we would have to look at scholarly reputation and research productivity rather than simply at accreditation, which raises a different set of issues. (Canadian universities made a pretty good showing in the Shanghai rankings, so they do pretty well at the high-end too.)

    My point was in response to the University of Fredericton text that Geoffs quoted:

    "University education in Canada is the responsibility of each province, and not the federal government, and designation as a degree-granting university under a Degree Granting Act of a Province is equivalent in Canada to regional accreditation in the U.S."

    I don't think that I agree with that because I'm not totally convinced that in the absence of AUCC membership, provincial approval is necessarily RA equivalent. I'm not suggesting that these schools are mills, nor am I comparing them to state-approved schools here in California, which was the question Geoffs raised.

    But I'm still not convinced that...

    Atlantic Baptist University
    Bethany Bible College
    Lansbridge University - New Brunswisk
    Meritus University
    New Brunswick Bible Institute
    St. Stephen's University
    University of Fredericton
    Yorkville University

    ...are all automatically RA equivalent just because there's some New Brunswick enabling legislation authorizing them to award degrees. Some of them might be RA equivalent, but others resemble ABHE Bible colleges or the kind of schools that ACICS would accredit here in the States.

    Here's another relevant thread in which I commented about BC's newly emergent University Canada West. It seems that the province of BC only passed its new University Authorization Act in 2002 in an attempt to get a handle on the burgeoning number of new private degree grantors in that province.

    There's been some controversy. Here's a 'Vancouver Sun' story about the closure of the BC version of Lansbridge University.
  6. geoffs

    geoffs Member

    Publicly funded yes, but what about this Privately funded item? Other schools operate in Canada with AUCC approval that are well received:
    -Niagara University (US) (AACSB I believe) offers programs in Toronto
    -Countless Australian Schools, some have permanent campuses.

    then you see PCDI, who had (might still have) a campus in Ontario to offer Career college diplomas but you can get your DETC masters through.
  7. geoffs

    geoffs Member

    Great point Bill, but this same issue popped up in Alberta with Devry; who via their US Regional Accreditation has provincial authority to grant degrees. But they don't have AUCC, nor do they have "official" transfer ability within the province via the provincial agreements.

    Then take a school like Ambrose in Alberta. It has grown from a Bible College to a University with full degree programs. It has provincial transfer recognition (Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer) and provincial authority; yet no AUCC.

    The point here, is the assertion of UofFredriction: their website alludes that Provincial Authority is on par with RA. I am not agreeing or disagreeing, but if that assertion holds true, then is there a purpose to RA in a US state where the school must also have state authority (has most do).
  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    There's a diverse (and constantly changing) lineup of American universities offering remote site degree programs inside Canada. I believe that all of them have to have local provincial approval to do that, but they aren't eligible for AUCC membership to my knowledge.

    In BC, you find remote-site programs from the University of Oregon, Gonzaga U., Fairleigh Dickenson and even Oklahoma City University. And
    inevitably, the U. of Phoenix, of course.

    I'm not sure how these fit into provincial transfer schemes. Some of them appear to be offering special interest programs in niche markets. The U. of Oregon offers a single MS in Educational Leadership in Coquitiam in what might be a contract arrangement with local school-districts or something.

    If they satisfy whatever Alberta's transfer expectations are, then why not?

    Well even if we accept, simply for the sake of argument, the U of F's assertion that Canadian provincial authorization is a-priori on a par with American RA, US states aren't Canadian provinces. Whatever we conclude about Canada won't automatically extend to the US. We can't just assume that American state licenses will be equivalent to RA as well.
  9. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    One point that bolsters U of Fredericton's claim to be RA-equivalent is the fact that UoF is a partner in a degree completion program with Husson University, which is a long-established private, not-for-profit RA school in northern Maine.

    This does not necessarily demonstrate that all schools with New Brunswick Provincial Authority are RA equivalent, but it suggests that at least some may be.
  10. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    The generally accepted status of "accreditation" within Canadian academic circles is that for a university to be considered "accredited" it must (1) have a Provincial Charter and (2) be a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

    Universities that post statements like the one above generally do not have AUCC membership and to obtain apparent legitimacy, indicate that they are operating under Provincial law. By itself, I equate this to "State Approved" schools in the US that are not RA-accredited. So, I would equate Provincial Charter + AUCC Membership as equivalent to RA. However, I do think that Canadian standards for "accreditation" (i.e. Provincial Charter + AUCC Membership) are generally set higher than RA.

    There are many RA schools in the US that would not be eligible for AUCC membership if they were in Canada, so the lower control limits are different in the two countries.

    My general rule of thumb is that if the school is not listed on the AUCC website, it is not "accredited". There is no need to determine if a school has a Provincial Charter since it wouldn't be an AUCC member if it didn't. So, indeed, AUCC membership is the final word on "accreditation" in Canada.

    I hope this helps.
  11. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    One obvious difference is that AUCC apparently does not include junior colleges. In the US, there are probably hundreds or thousands of 2-year colleges which hold regional accreditation, from the same agencies as the 4-year schools. In Canada, junior colleges apparently are not expected to be AUCC members, even though they may have articulation agreements with AUCC schools.

    My guess is that public Canadian community colleges are regarded as (at least) equivalent to RA US community colleges, even though the Canadian community colleges are not AUCC.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2009
  12. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Another difference between RA and AUCC is that AUCC apparently accepts only non-profit institutions as members. In the US, RA agencies will accredit both non-profit and for-profit schools.

    A for-profit Canadian school, like the University of Fredericton, can obtain a Provincial Charter (condition 1 in the quote above), but does not appear to have the option of pursuing AUCC membership (condition 2 in the quote above). So if the quote above is accurate, then no for-profit school can be accepted as "accredited" within "Canadian academic circles".

    In theory, it might actually be worthwhile for UoF to consider pursuing US regional accreditation (as other Canadian schools, like Athabasca University, have done). RA would certainly increase UoF's credibility within the US, and might even provide more acceptance within Canada, given that AUCC membership appears to be out of reach.

    After all, the traditional "Canadian academic circles" surely have policies in place to accept RA degrees and credits from US schools. So why not accept RA degrees and credits from Canadian schools ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2009
  13. Scott Henley

    Scott Henley New Member

    Community Colleges in Canada are members of the Association of Community Colleges of Canada (ACCC). It works in a similar manner to AUCC. If a "college" is not on the ACCC list, it is generally not "fully accredited", or whatever term we can use.
  14. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    There's a separate association for Canadian community colleges - the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).

    My impression is that Canadian community colleges have historically occupied a position more like British further education colleges than American JCs. They award certificates instead of degrees and have placed less emphasis on transfer programs into bachelors degree programs elsewhere.

    In BC several community colleges have recently been given the right to award bachelors and masters degrees.

    The new Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo is still a member of the ACCC and has become a member of the AUCC as well.

    The new University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford became a AUCC member and apparently has let its ACCC membership lapse.
  15. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Speaking of Canadian community colleges, check out this one -- the Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit on remote Baffin Island. (Way up there in the direction of the North Pole.)


Share This Page