2022 Periodic Review of MSCHE Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation
In November 2020, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) began its process of reviewing the 2014 Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation. As a quality assurance agency, the Commission holds itself to the same expectations that are applied to its member institutions to conduct periodic assessment of itself, its requirements, and its effectiveness.
The Commission’s policy, Review of Commission Standards, Requirements of Affiliation, and Policies, establishes the Commission’s commitment to periodically evaluate the Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation. As an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education, the Commission is required to meet all regulations, including Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 602.21 which defines the requirements for ongoing review of an agency’s standards to ensure that it is adequate to evaluate the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions and programs it accredits and relevant to the educational or training needs of students.
Goals for the Review Process
- Updating the Requirements of Affiliation to reflect the changes in federal regulation and the Commission’s decisions relating to domestic and international membership expansion;
- Incorporating the Requirements of Affiliation appropriately into the Standards;
- Developing further guidance on any data expected within each requirement or standard as may be appropriate;
- Infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the standards.
To meet these goals, the Commission supported a number of opportunities to engage with constituents about the Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation. Throughout the evaluation period, peer evaluators, Commissioners, and staff have been incorporating feedback from all who use the standards. During the Collaborative Implementation Project, 117 evaluators visited 15 institutions, and we received feedback from all who participated in the project. In December 2021, 654 MSCHE Virtual Annual Conference attendees attended the Standards Review conference session. In January and February 2022, six Virtual Listening Sessions were attended by 259 attendees, and 55 written comments were received from 17 institutions. The proposed revision was created as a result of this constituency engagement.
The Commission now seeks public comment from August 22 to September 9. Following review of the comments, revised standards will be presented to the Commission for endorsement at its November 2022 meeting. A panel presentation on the revised standards is scheduled for Friday, December 9, 2022, from 10:15 – 11:00 a.m. at the MSCHE Annual Conference to be held in Philadelphia. Member vote on the revised standards will occur in early 2023, and the Commission will vote on the revised standards and requirements in March 2023. A team is targeting implementation for fall 2023.
Constituents will have an opportunity to dialogue with MSCHE about the proposed changes to the Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation through the following virtual events. To attend one of the scheduled Standards Review Public sessions (all times are Eastern Time), click the link to register in advance.
August 25, 2022 | 2:00 – 2:45 p.m.
August 30, 2022 | 10:00 – 10:45 a.m.
September 7, 2022 | 12:00 – 12:45 p.m.
Standards Revision Summary
The proposed revisions include the following:
- We have incorporated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion throughout the standards to advocate for honest self-reflection that results in meaningful change at our institutions.
- We incorporated the Requirements of Affiliation throughout the standards in a streamlined format to eliminate unnecessary separation and duplication.
- We included the verification of compliance with federal accreditation-relevant regulations to clarify the connection between the Standards, Requirements of Affiliation, and a basic verification process during self-study.
- We have made very simple changes that better bring together multiple processes and documents without additional burdensome reporting.
- We have updated and reorganized the Introductory materials to include the Mission, Vision, and Values that were recently adopted by the Commission.
- We continue to develop a companion document that will identify required data and documentation during self-study that aligns with the policy and procedure of the commission; this will be based on evidence that institutions and peers have found most relevant to the criteria.
These revisions touch each and every Standard for Accreditation and Requirement of Affiliation; however, the membership will have a sense of familiarity with what is being presented. The revisions reflect the breadth and depth of your experiences with the standards and requirements and continue to reflect our commitment to protecting the rigorous and comprehensive standards, in the context of diverse missions, that the institutions within the Middle States Commission on Higher Education expect.
Requirements of Affiliation Revisions
|Current Requirements of Affiliation||Proposed Standards for Accreditation Placement|
|7. The institution has a mission statement and related goals, approved by its governing board, that defines its purposes within the context of higher education.||Standard I: Mission and Goals|
|5. The institution complies with all applicable government (usually Federal and state) laws and regulations.
6. The institution complies with applicable Commission, interregional, and inter-institutional policies. These policies can be viewed on the Commission website, www.msche.org.
8. The institution systematically evaluates its educational and other programs and makes public how well and in what ways it is accomplishing its purposes.
|Standard II: Ethics and Integrity|
|9. The institution’s student learning programs and opportunities are characterized by rigor, coherence, and appropriate assessment of student achievement throughout the educational offerings, regardless of certificate or degree level or delivery and instructional modality.
15. The institution has a core of faculty (full-time or part-time) and/or other appropriate professionals with sufficient responsibility to the institution to assure the continuity and coherence of the institution’s educational programs.
|Standard III: Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience|
|10. Institutional planning integrates goals for academic and institutional effectiveness and improvement, student achievement of educational goals, student learning, and the results of academic and institutional assessment.
11. The institution has documented financial resources, funding base, and plans for financial development, including those from any related entities (including without limitation systems, religious sponsorship, and corporate ownership) adequate to support its educational purposes and programs and to ensure financial stability. The institution demonstrates a record of responsible fiscal management, has a prepared budget for the current year, and undergoes an external financial audit on an annual basis.
|Standard VI: Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement|
|12. The institution fully discloses its legally constituted governance structure(s) including any related entities (including without limitation systems, religious sponsorship, and corporate ownership). The institution’s governing body is responsible for the quality and integrity of the institution and for ensuring that the institution’s mission is being accomplished.
13. A majority of the institution’s governing body’s members have no employment, family, ownership, or other personal financial interest in the institution. The governing body adheres to a conflict of interest policy that assures that those interests are disclosed and that they do not interfere with the impartiality of governing body members or outweigh the greater duty to secure and ensure the academic and fiscal integrity of the institution. The institution’s district/system or other chief executive officer shall not serve as the chair of the governing body.
14. The institution and its governing body/bodies make freely available to the Commission accurate, fair, and complete information on all aspects of the institution and its operations. The governing body/bodies ensure that the institution describes itself in comparable and consistent terms to all of its accrediting and regulatory agencies, communicates any changes in accredited status, and agrees to disclose information (including levels of governing body compensation, if any) required by the Commission to carry out its accrediting responsibilities.
|Standard VII: Governance, Leadership, and Administration|
The link below will download a copy of the proposed revisions created as a result of the constituency engagement. NOTE: This draft does not contain the cover page, index, and other formatting that the final published version will include.
The public comment period ended September 9, 2022.