Summer 2011: controversy facing trident university international

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Stu_Dent, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    In March of this year the accreditation of Trident University International was placed on probationary status after the university succeeded in avoiding the revocation of its accreditation following receipt of a “Show Cause” letter in the Summer of 2011. That has been commented on at length on other threads. The following is an update which has some relevance for prospective doctoral students and others considering registering with Trident University International.

    The management of Trident (TUI) changed after it became a for-profit institution in 2007 and over the course of the following two to three years a number of managerial staff were hired in anticipation of the university’s expansion. When the transcripts and institutional integrity crisis hit TUI in the Spring and Summer of 2011 and WASC issued them the severe reprimand of a letter demanding it show cause why its accreditation should not be revoked, many of these staff worked extremely hard to analyze systems, reassure students, effect changes and generally pull the institution through the crisis. Nonetheless new registrations dropped by 40% and almost immediately after WASC transferred TUI to probationary status fifteen of those staff were fired, including the remaining VP of Marketing and the VP of Student Services.

    Then in late May of this year it was announced that staff were to work a four day week, faculty pay would be reduced and faculty jobs were being reassessed with the likelihood that the employment of a number would be terminated. In addition the way faculty time is credited on the doctoral program has been changed. As the amount of time faculty needed to spend with doctoral students was greater than that with undergraduates or masters students in the past if a faculty member was assigned to teach a doctoral student this would count as equivalent to five other students. This then was reduced to three other students and now in May it was announced that this distinction is to be abolished and teaching a doctoral student will be regarded as equivalent to teaching an undergraduate.

    This sends a clear signal to faculty about the value being placed on the university’s doctoral program, one which anyway the for-profit management had regarded ambivalently. On the one hand they accepted that having a doctoral program reflected well on the university but on the other they felt that it was not cost effective unless it could be “scaled up” somehow. This was not achieved prior to the transcripts and integrity scandal and so now it looks as though the future of TUI’s doctoral program might be in question. This may not be a surprise given that the university’s new President has past experience at Argosy University.

    These announcements follow the provision to the new President/CEO in February of a highly critical report regarding the university’s academic integrity which argued that TUI’s practices and systems were deficient to such an extent that they brought into question the degrees it had granted and that therefore an audit should be conducted of such degrees. As far as I am aware WASC has been made aware of that report but no such audit has been initiated, yet.

    At the very least it appears that the educational model at TUI is being radically changed and in a manner the consequences of which are not at all clear, especially for doctoral students.
  2. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Do 40% of potential students have even have the slightest clue regarding accreditation matters? I wonder if the drop is really related.
  3. honesroc

    honesroc Member

    Well, if anyone does it would be the online learner. Heck, accredited online-only schools make sure you know it. Do a google search for "online college", and the first page that comes up is chalk-full of for-profits and the word 'accreditation'.
  4. NorCal

    NorCal Active Member

    I would agree that online students are more in tuned to accreditation compared to their B&M counterparts; especially considering the increased competition between online schools fighting for market share. With that said, any adverse situation involving WASC and a subsequent 40% drop in attendance are probably related.

    Online schools are popping up everywhere, and everyone claims to be "accredited" but its the savvy student's who ask exactly WHO it is that accredits them. :deal:
  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I was stunned--and wrong--when the NCA accredited Northcentral U. without requiring their doctoral students to participate in residencies. But that could be chalked up to the very progressive NCA.

    Then TUI popped up and I was shocked that they were included in Touro's accreditation with Middle States. That was eventually rectified, but I was again shocked that WASC agreed to accredit them as a stand-alone and still having non-residential doctoral programs. Now that seems to be going by the wayside. WASC wasn't going to tolerate TUI for long. I suspect they granted TUI accreditation as kind of a "grandfathering" in order to take a look at them. But even though stripping a school of its regional accreditation is not a simple or quick process, it seems to be afoot.
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Oh, and all TUI has to do is convert the Ph.D. programs to DBA, EdD, etc., then apply for DETC accreditation. Should be a snap.

    (Actually, this isn't necessarily true. DETC is very specific about what it requires regarding coursework. The DETC is still stuck in it's self-study courses-by-mail paradigm. I don't know how well it does with instructor-led DL courses/programs. But wouldn't it be a hoot to see a school lose its RA and turn to DETC?)
  7. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    I think 40% of students would be scared enough of putting in the work to possibly end up getting a degree from an institution that loses accreditation. This was all over the internet, especially the military boards, where even if personally accreditation is of little concern, it has to be accredited to be funded.
  8. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    What I wrote is not intended to suggest that Trident University International's accreditation is now in jeopardy. In fact it is less in jeopardy now than before March 2012 when the Show Cause letter was in effect.

    I understand that a 40% drop in new registrations happened across the board for all online institutions, and in that regard TUI's performance could be regarded as extremely good, in part because of the hard work of its staff and management, i.e. they managed to weather the crisis well enough to "only" lose 40% new registrations and held on to those they already had.

    However, TUI's financial arrangements are a critical factor in how the institution is managed. When it was bought the deal was financed with a large loan. If financial performance drops below a certain level this triggers an increase in the rate of return TUI must pay its bank lenders. Thus despite the stalwart work of its employees, who steered the university through a crisis, the university's new management decided to cut costs and fire many of them immediately after the threat of the Show Cause letter was past, furlough the rest and cut faculty pay and positions in order to avoid triggering that cost. You can perhaps imagine what a 20% drop in income does to the lower paid staff at the institution?

    Imagine also what that does for faculty, staff and management retention and recruitment as well as what the loss of the staff brought in to build the place does for future improvements and faculty and staff morale. Then think about how that could affect the quality of the educational experience there. Finally I'd invite you to consider the ethicality of Trident University International's for-profit management and compare that with the way other institutions are managed.
  9. dl_mba

    dl_mba Member

  10. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

  11. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Exactly. And you can't even dismiss outright all schools with a .com address (e.g. is the website for Drexel University's online programs. Drexel being a very well regarded B&M school in Philadelphia).
  12. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    Liberty is the same way. Their online program is
  13. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    At Stanford University, all webpages seem to work equally well with or, regardless of whether they are related to B&M or DL programs.
  14. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

  15. dl_mba

    dl_mba Member

    .COM/.EDU refers to online-only schools in my conversation above. Of course almost all of the RA Online schools have .EDU domains.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2012
  16. dl_mba

    dl_mba Member

    You are right. But there are plenty of Flexible delivery PhD/DSc/DBA programs offered by B&M schools.
    Not all .EDU schools offer 100% online (only a few like NCU/TUI etc does). Most of them including the B&M ones require residencies.
  17. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    This is true but if you travel 75% of the time for work a residency might not be an option. The conversation might be like this:

    PhD seeker - I know I travel a lot for work but I want to use our vacation time for a PhD residency
    Spouse - silence
    PhD seeker - What do you think?
    Spouse - silence
    PhD seeker - well, maybe I will do a 100% online program
    Spouse - good choice, you do have a family you know
  18. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    Then why not just say "online-only schools"? Messing with their .com/.edu suffixes to paint those schools with a bad shade only serves to cover a broad swath that catches good programs as well.
  19. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Are there any accredited colleges/universities that have a .com address or its international equivalent? I haven't come across an accredited .com college in a very long time myself.
  20. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

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