News From AU – Middle States Accreditation – Continued

April 9, 2003


Spearheading AU’s Middle States accreditation efforts are Nancy Parker (liaison officer), Sandy Sales (committee recording secretary), and Ken Collier (committee chair).

Athabasca University is proceeding with its efforts to achieve full accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an accomplishment that will help facilitate AU’s expansion into the US market. Last issue, we learned why accreditation is important to AU’s expansion, why the Middle States body was chosen, and how the accreditation process takes place. This week, Ken Collier, chair of the steering committee, provides more details.

FOR PART ONE OF THE MIDDLE STATES ACCREDITATION STORY, SEE OUR LAST ISSUE (http://www.ausu.org/voice/announce/announcefull.php?ANN=346)

GOING GLOBAL
The accreditation theme does not stop with the US. AU already has projects and considerable experience in overseas education projects. Japan and China are two recent examples of countries where AU has or had contracts. The very existence of distance education, electronic communications and the capacities of the web allow the educational enterprise to leap over national boundaries. It was just a matter of time until education quality, standards, security and trustworthiness, administrative and practice questions moved beyond regional or national regulatory bodies.

Nonetheless, existing accreditors will have large influence on global education and DE rules, as well as the mechanisms to enforce them.

AU is already in the global arena, alongside very large players from Europe, the US and Australia. Southeast Asian DE bodies are also growing fast because their national populations’ educational needs cannot be met by either current or forecasted higher education building in the foreseeable future. Offshore (including Canadian) DE capacity may very well play a big role in meeting this pressure.

Recent global education conferences took up this theme. One conference in particular, the OECD/US Forum on Trade in Educational Services (1), included key sessions on quality and standards, accreditation, credit transfers and other agenda items of importance to the AU internationalization projects (2).

Athabasca University Middle States Accreditation Initiative situates us firmly in the terrain of higher education and distance education on a global plane. The quickly unfolding context within which AU operates is known from the literature and sites mentioned above. The Middle States Accreditation Initiative is but a first step in becoming a recognized part of that context.

(1) Duepree, John L., Maisia E. Johnson and Marjorie Peace Lenn (Eds.) (2002). OECD/US Forum on Trade In Educational Services: Conference Proceedings, Washington: The Center for Quality Assurance in International Education.

(2) See, from another conference, Dirk Van Damme (http://www.unesco.org/education/studyingabroad/highlights/global_forum/presentations/keynote_eng.doc).

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