Regionals Endorse Western Governors University

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Lawrie Miller, Feb 2, 2001.

  1. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    As many of you may know, WGU achieved regional candidacy status last November. WGU
    is the only university to hold candidacy status with four separate regional accrediting agencies. Note that although a committee (IRAC) was formed to oversee the
    process, regional candidate status was awarded by the individual agencies. There is nothing "funny" or odd about the nature of the status. It is normal standard regional candidacy. IRAC was a convenient tool, nothing more.

    Begs the question, though: why multiple regional accreditation? Perhaps "regional" in cyberspace is an oxymoron and the Regionals recognize it. They may be trying to accommodate the new distance learning paradigm: education without geographical constraints. It is also noteworthy that this is the first exclusively online university to be approved by the Western Association (WASC), or so I believe.

    In "another distance ed news board" some have
    argued that candidacy status might not be that big a deal (Chip?), and indeed that the probability of a candidate for regional accreditation actually becoming regionally accredited was not high. This is at odds with
    my understanding of the facts. a) Candidacy status is an significant achievement and a major step for an institution, and, b) that institutions achieving candidacy status have a very good shot historically of subsequently becoming fully accredited. Does anyone have actual numbers on this last point, I wonder.

    The most important aspect of WGU's success in achieving candidacy status is that it is an overt endorsement by the Regionals of the principle of awarding graduate degrees *entirely* on the basis of prior learning. Now clearly, the validity of the prior learning must be tested (by written and oral exam, and by other assessment methods),
    but there is absolutely no requirement whatsoever for new learning (I'm laboring this point since it was disputed elsewhere).

    Well, so what? Well, this is the first time a fully assessment based university has gained regional association sanction. It is now possible to gain a master's degree from a regionally endorsed (but not yet accredited) institution by simply passing a series of exams or assessments. One can, walk in, sit down, take the exams**, present any materials (portfolio), and walk out with a graduate degree, in record time and at minimal cost, thank you very much.

    For the first time the Regionals are saying learners are due credit exclusively for what they know, not how they learned what know, not where they learned what they know, BUT
    that they *do* know.

    ** As the first ever WGU master's student to write an exam (any exam - more than a year ago now), I can tell you that it IS possible to do nothing other than walk in, sit the exam and pocket the credits.
  2. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    If I implied that, it was an incorrect implication. Candidacy, as I understand it, *is* a significant milestone. I was, however, offering the caveat with regard to Northcentral that signing up for a degree with the near certainty that candidacy = eventual accreditation isn't wise.

    Certainly some schools never get it. And others take a long time. I think Union was in candidacy for something like 7 years before being granted full accreditation. But with the resources behind WGU, I suspect they'll get it with little difficulty. Northcentral may be a different matter, but then again, they may fly through the process.

    Absolutely true. It will be *very* interesting to see how much politicking goes on behind the scenes. I predict a *large* outcry from old-school academics.
  3. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Union was a candidate for 9 years. The North Central Association had guidelines that said that after six years of candidacy, it was "up or out." But they made a special exception (the only time, I believe) for Union.

    I think the Union process cleared the path for many who follows, especially with Middle States: Walden, Jones, Capella, etc.

    Did Touro clear any paths with Middle States? And has WGU cleared paths for everyone else? Or are these anomalies, and the paths will be plowed under as the geezers and fossils bring out the heavy equipment? Fascinating time in the world of accreditation.


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