The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

July 13, 2012

Ashford University's expectations scrutinized

Accreditation denial leads Ashford to be placed on special monitoring status by Higher Learning Commission

CLINTON — Days after being denied initial accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Ashford University has been moved to “special monitoring status” by the Higher Learning Commission to confirm compliance with the Commission's criteria for accreditation, including the minimum expectations, according to a release from the university.  

Ashford received notice on Thursday, a day after the HLC board held a meeting to consider how to proceed in light of the denial by the WASC.

The HLC Board of Trustees is requiring Ashford to provide a report by Aug. 10.  Ashford is also required to host an advisory visit within 60 days of the HLC’s receipt of its report.

The HLC Advisory Board in February will review the report from the advisory visit team and the report from Ashford University.

“We are accredited, and will continue our critical service to our non-traditional students, largely comprised of working adults and underserved populations,” Dr. Elizabeth Tice, president and chief executive officer of Ashford University, said in a press release from the parent company, Bridgepoint Education, Friday. “We are fully committed to providing the opportunity for a brighter future to the more than 90,000 students currently attending Ashford University in pursuit of a higher education.”

Ashford is currently accredited by the HLC of the North Central Association through the 2014-2015 school year, pending the upcoming review.  The HLC is the accrediting body for a 19-state region, including Iowa and Colorado where Bridgepoint’s University of the Rockies is located.

Ashford was seeking the WASC accreditation because the primary focus of its activities have shifted from Iowa to California since it was accredited by the HLC in 2006. WASC is one of seven regional accrediting commissions, with jurisdiction over schools located in the states of California and Hawaii as well as the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Ashford’s online enrollment has increased tenfold in recent years, with most of its students being served out of the San Diego office, according to the background information provided by the WASC. The WASC denied Ashford accreditation because of low student retention rates and lack of a system to monitor and assure student success, among other things.

Total loss of accreditation could mean loss of access to federal student aid, which makes up a majority of Bridgepoint Education’s revenue.

Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich said on Thursday, before news of the “special monitoring status” broke, he reached out to Ashford Vice President John Ballheim to offer support after hearing news of the accreditation denial, but had not heard any news regarding the for-profit university’s next step.

Officials from Ashford University could not be reached for comment.  


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