Why Trident's Accreditation is NOT in Jeopardy

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Stu_Dent, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    On a forum headed "Trident's Accreditation is in Jeopardy" a lot of unsubstantiated rumor and speculation has been swirling around worrying a lot of people who might read it. The default assumption seems to be that it is likely TUI will lose its accreditation therefore questions relate to what students should do IF that happens.

    However, in my opinion the assumption that accreditation will be lost is unfounded. Here is my analysis of the situation. I hope this helps students, faculty, staff and administrators at TUI come to a better informed opinion about the matter.

    In summary my argument is that:

    a. The problems which led to the "show cause" letter are easily fixed.
    b. The consequences of not fixing them for the institution would be very adverse and therefore the institution will fix them.
    c. The fixes are very likely to satisfy the accreditors.

    That there’s a risk of loss of accreditation is true. However the critical issue is how large is the risk? There’s a risk in driving to the supermarket for milk, yet no one is suggesting that people should stop doing it. Everything we have learned about TUI tells us that the people there are doing their best to fix the issues. The university apparently had an administrative problem dealing with the transcripts of incoming students. They’re fixing that. Specific people didn’t report this to WASC when they should have. Personnel are being replaced and a new and more experienced man is running the university now.

    In my opinion there are in fact two risks:

    1. A risk that TUI will not fix the problems of the administration of transcripts and of reporting to WASC.

    2. A risk that WASC will not accept that the problems have been fixed to their satisfaction and as a result not accepting that sufficient cause has been shown that accreditation should not be revoked.

    Let’s analyze these in turn.

    My understanding is that TUI is already fixing both of the problems mentioned in the "show cause" letter, as they have indicated. They have a new President, are assessing their records to determine which students are affected and are changing their administrative systems. As they have every incentive to fix them fully, I expect that they will have fixed them by the deadline imposed by WASC, if not before. Thus I assess the risk of them failing to do so as effectively zero.

    There is then a risk that even though the problems have been fixed, WASC does not accept this as sufficient. The nature of the solutions for the two problems (new systems to replace failed administrative systems and new personnel to replace failed reporting systems) seem to me to be ones which it is very likely that an accrediting body would find acceptable. Again I think it reasonable to expect that TUI will determine beforehand what WASC will find acceptable and make sure it does whatever they require as not to do so would have such adverse consequences for them and for their students. This then leads me to assess the risk that WASC will not accept TUI’s fixes as minimal to zero.

    People on DegreeInfo.com are expressing worry and concern as to what they ought to do, whether they should go elsewhere, whether they should continue at TUI and so forth. The answer to that in my opinion is pretty obvious given that the assessment of the risk of losing accreditation is virtually nil and that is, TUI should be a potential school for any prospective student, and indeed existing students, for exactly the same reasons it was a potential school for them before this accreditation issue came along. The whole dear-me-the-sky-is-falling-what-to-do-what-to-do! argument depends on the risk of losing accreditation and frankly there is no reason for expecting that to happen.

    It should also be born in mind that the accreditation issue has absolutely no bearing on the quality of the educational experience at TUI. It is to do with how credits for courses completed elsewhere were recorded and a failure by specific people who were at the university to report this to WASC. So given that students might be hard pressed to find equivalent quality programs elsewhere and that there are various switching costs in going elsewhere, and if the likelihood of losing the accreditation is next to zero, it makes sense to me that students should continue to enroll there.
  2. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    To adress your points:

    1. Trident had plenty of opportunity to fix this beforehand, knowing full well that there was a problem, yet at every juncture and every level thus far, they chose not to. A new prez might be a good start, but that is just one person. Who else was involved with actively ignoring the problem? What took them so long to get a handle on what you believe to have an easy solution? The answers to those questions, IMO are much more important than whether or not the initial issue is solved.

    2. Show cause is serious business. As I understand it, TUI has one last shot at fully convincing a group of skeptics who are already annoyed with their past antics.

    Accreditation loss? Hardly a given, yet hardly nill. We'll have to see.

    By the way, doesn't it seem like accreditation loss rarely has anything to do with academics?
  3. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    The purpose of this thread is to provide an assessment of the risk of TUI losing its accreditation, something I regard as extremely unlikely. The response to my analysis seems to suggest, the following arguments:

    1. TUI knew about the transfer credits issue for a long time and didn't fix it, and so I presume the argument is either that:

    a). because they didn't fix it before, they won't fix it now.
    b). because they didn't fix it before the accreditors will be very angry with them and will not approve their "show cause" actions.

    I think this argument has little going for it from a number of different angles.

    First of all, there's the premise that all and sundry at TUI knew about the issue, had plenty of opportunity to deal with it yet knowingly chose not to. Really? Is there ANY evidence for that assertion, which seems to assume that all the people at TUI, the managers, the administrators, the faculty and the staff were part of some big cover up, and knowingly acted in a deceitful manner? Is it actually believable that there was some nasty secret at the university which everyone knew about but they all chose to ignore? I doubt it. What's much more believable in my opinion is that this was initially a very small institution set up in the late 1990s by a handful of people who struggled to make it work, and who put in place a procedure which was flawed, and that no one realized this as the institution grew, until recently. By recently I mean sometime this year when the whole thing blew up.

    So I really do not buy the premise. But even if one did, the consequences don't make a lot of sense to me:

    a). The consequences of not fixing the problem will be dire so the university has every incentive to do so.
    b). WASC is not some petty or petulant institution, nor can it behave in such a manner. It has explicit standards, it has put TUI on notice that it must meet them, and if it does so, it should and will accept that the university has met its requirements. Do bear in mind that were it not to do so the consequences for students would be dire, and I doubt that any accrediting body wants to cause students, faculty and staff of any institution that degree of unpleasantness unless it really absolutely and completely justifiably has to.

    Thus the fact that, as you yourself indicate, "show cause" is such a serious matter, itself provides the rationale for my argument that TUI will not lose its accreditation.

    2. You also seem to argue that replacing a President is not enough to restore trust in the institution. I would argue:

    a). It may not be sufficient, but it is absolutely necessary.
    b). The new President is experienced, and thus known to the accreditors.
    c). I am told that the President is not the only administrator being replaced at TUI.

    If an organization has a new and trusted leader who has the authority to instigate any and all necessary changes, and is making public statements showing that he is doing so, I think that goes a long way to meeting the requirements of the accreditors regarding the two issues they have raised, (a failed administrative system and a failure to report), especially if the first issue was not widely known and the responsibility for failing to report it lay with a tiny number of individuals. I believe that to be the case as I find it far more believable and you provide no evidence to the contrary.
  4. Shal916

    Shal916 New Member

    Loss of accreditation is zero. Wow!! You make some good points however you make it sound so easy that this is just a little problem and TUI is just over it. One point that I think will take that zero a little bit higher is, when a university rather than assuring the students that it will not be loosing its accreditation starts to mention "teach out options" I think the risk is greater than zero. Also when you compare going to the supermarket to get milk to this situation, you havent spent 40k on a phd with one or two classes left and now you get a letter saying that before you complete your degree the school might loose accreditation. We all know how hard it is to get doctorate level courses to transfer. So IN MY OPINION, we should not make the problem look so small. This is a very serious problem and should be taken seriously. Like I said you make good points on how the university is trying to fix things but you are also suggesting that there is no way the university will loose its accreditation.
  5. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    At this point, it's not just a matter of correcting credit reporting procedures. It's a matter of trust.

    Accreditation is all about trust. Accreditation agencies cannot and do not act as overseers at all times -- on the contrary, colleges and universities normally go 10 years between accreditation reviews. That's a long time. The system assumes that schools can be trusted to do the right thing, even when they are not under direct evaluation.

    WASC may not have that sense of trust about Trident. Trident apparently had administrative problems -- problems that were significant enough to attract the notice of other schools -- yet failed to disclose these problems to WASC, even though WASC was conducting a site visit at the time. Apparently WASC eventually learned about the problems, but through the other schools, not from Trident.

    So Trident didn't do the right thing, even at a time when it was under WASC evaluation. Given those circumstances, WASC may not trust Trident to go unsupervised for the next 10 years.

    It's probably relatively easy to correct the administrative problems. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to rebuild trust.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2011
  6. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    With great respect you are confounding two or more issues:

    a. The risk of loss of accreditation.
    b. The difficulty of fixing the problems.
    c. The consequences of not doing so.

    and I think, quite understandably, you are doing so because you are upset that this situation has occurred. You are not alone. I have also been upset and annoyed by it. However I am trying to give a balanced argument here in the face of what I see as a lot of overblown scare-mongering and fear.

    You argue that the risk must be higher because the university is mentioning "teach outs" to students when they call with questions as to what will happen IF the university loses its accreditation. If you think about it, that argument is somewhat ridiculous. If students are concerned and fearful the university must have in place answers that address their concerns. It does. It is explaining what will happen IF accreditation is removed. Not to have such explanations in place would in my opinion be reprehensible, so the university is to be commended for providing students with an answer. It may not be an answer you like but they cannot make one up. They are doing their best to provide appropriate information. If they didn't no doubt someone on this forum would be at the head of the line to tell the world that "TUI is ignoring its students!".

    Therefore as a responsible institution they are providing appropriate information to students in answer to their questions regarding an event which in my opinion is not going to happen, because students are concerned and they must provide such information.

    I am not in my analysis belittling the significance of the issue, nor the dire consequences if it is not adequately addressed. In fact it is BECAUSE:

    - it is so serious, and
    - the problems are fixable, and
    - the consequences are so dire, and
    - it is in the university's self-interest to resolve this

    that I believe it will be resolved and thus that the risk of loss of accreditation is virtually nil.
  7. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    I agree with you in principle, but I have in another reply addressed that issue in some detail. If you want to argue now that trust will not be restored then I think you need to develop some further more detailed argument as to why what TUI has done to date is not going to be sufficient to rebuild trust with the accreditors or indeed make some suggestions as to what they should do but have not yet as far as you know done to do so.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    That sounds about right. The president of WASC, Ralph Wolff, has been quoted about Trident as follows:

    I doubt that anyone outside WASC really knows whether or not Trident's promised reforms will be satisfactory. The quoted news story also states:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2011
  9. b4cz28

    b4cz28 New Member

    Ellis University
  10. USGRAD

    USGRAD Member

  11. USGRAD

    USGRAD Member

    From: http://www.sjeccd.edu/aboutus/chancellor/Documents/District%20Office%20Accreditation%20Briefing.pdf

    “Order Show Cause
    When the Commission finds an institution to be in substantial non-compliance with its Eligibility Requirements, Standards, or Commission policies, or when the institution has not responded to the conditions imposed by the Commission, the Commission will require the institution to Show Cause why its accreditation should not be withdrawn at the end of a stated period

    If the loss of accreditation will likely cause an institution to close, during the Show Cause period, the institution must make preparations for closure according to the Commission’s “Policy on Closing an Institution.”
  12. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    The senator's letter relates to accreditation and the quality of academic institutions in general and does not relate to TUI specifically. It's well know that the Congress is concerned that some for-profit institutions have not been providing value for money. OK. So what's your point? That TUI is one of them? That because the accreditors are under scrutiny themselves they'll seek to treat TUI in a punitive manner?

    I'd argue that neither of these is true, and I'll happily discuss them with you if that's your argument. But you have a tendency not to present arguments. Rather you present innuendo and adopt whatever position it seems will cause the most controversy. As an example on the other thread you argue that the university is planning to close, then you say it won't lose it's accreditation.

    Please provide some kind of rational argument, preferably a constructive one, which might be in some way helpful to the many thousands of people who study at or work for TUI. Continuing your practice of stirring up controversy and bemoaning the state of education in the nation for some reason really does nothing to help anyone.
  13. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    The news story speculates, and you say you don't know. I think that's about right.

    Can we get beyond that and discuss the argument I am putting forward regarding risk or, to be constructive, what more you think TUI needs to do to restore trust with the accreditors?
  14. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    THis is really old news. What's the point of you posting it here when it's already posted on the other thread. Do you really have nothing constructive to contribute?
  15. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Truthfully, I'm wondering what you aim to contribute. Your argument is that TUI's accreditation is unlikely to be lost, but exact level of the likeness isn't any where near as important as the fact that it is a very real possibility, and the possibility in itself may be enough to tarnish TUI's reputation and the confidence its current, former and prospective students have in it. People who may be affected by this would still be wise to prepare themselves for the potential disaster and to learn their options.
  16. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    No -- because quite frankly, I don't know what Trident needs to do to restore trust with WASC.

    And I doubt that anyone else in this forum does either. Only WASC itself can answer that question.

    But we probably won't hear anything more from WASC until the upcoming "Special Visit" has been completed.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2011
  17. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    I am sure you are right that the university's reputation will be "tarnished" to some degree, as, after all, you and a clique of raucous, ill-informed and unthinking voices on this site are doing their level best to tarnish it.

    In what way it might be "tarnished" though is not clear as the whole issue does not relate to the quality of the educational service the university provides. As students come to understand exactly what went wrong, and why, and what has been done about it, and so long as the university continues to keep them informed, I am sure that the bulk of them will understand and be willing to forgive, especially once it is clear that the accreditation will NOT be lost.

    The purpose of this thread is to present a reasoned argument as to why the university's accreditation will NOT be lost, and so far I have heard not one reasonable counter-argument.
  18. USGRAD

    USGRAD Member


    You are a poor ambassador of Trident, unless the level of analysis and critical thinking that you have demonstrated are reflective of the quality of the learning outcomes engendered by the educational process at Trident. And if the latter applies, then there is a bigger problem. Do follow my earlier advice; you will be okay.
  19. Stu_Dent

    Stu_Dent New Member

    It saddens me that you don't feel able to make a constructive suggestion regarding the restoration of trust between TUI and its accreditors. However a willingness to admit ignorance is a refreshing change from the fear-mongering and ranting which has been the norm regarding this issue, and I congratulate you for it.

    Here's a list of things I would suggest might help.

    1. Identify exactly what was the administrative problem, and demonstrably fix it.
    2. Identify the people responsible for the non-reporting and get rid of them.
    3. Replace them with experienced people with exemplary reputations, well known to the accreditors.
    4. Conduct a thorough and transparent audit of procedures to determine whether any other nasty "surprises" are lurking in the system, fix any that are identified and provide the accreditors with a full report of the audit.
    5. Support students by keeping them fully informed of what is being done and properly advised of their options.

    That's a start, and perhaps much of that will sound strangely familiar to those following this story as many of those steps are being followed by the university.

    Does anyone have any other constructive suggestions?
  20. b4cz28

    b4cz28 New Member

    So Close.... just ...a...bit...more.....

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2011

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