Answers to commonly asked questions about institutional accreditation have been provided below. This information will be updated as the need arises.
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A: These benefits are associated with accreditation:
· Regular external assessment of SFU's adherence to best-practice standards increases our accountability to stakeholders.
· Accreditation helps establish clearer benchmarks/standards for assessing educational goals and thus benefits students’ learning experiences.
· Accreditation enhances the value of an SFU degree for alumni abroad and for international students returning home.
· Accreditation simplifies our relationships with U.S. institutions, including government, foundations and collegiate sports associations (NCAA).
· Accreditation fosters public confidence in SFU's ability to fulfill its stated mission and goals.
A: Discussions began as early as 1998 regarding admission to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In January 2008, the NCAA voted to accept a 10-year pilot project that would allow Canadian institutions to apply for membership in the NCAA Division II. One of the requirements is for member schools to be accredited by an appropriate regional accrediting agency.
In 2008, SFU began exploring the benefits of an institutional (university-wide) accreditation with the NWCCU in light of the interest that was being demonstrated in joining the NCAA. A review of NWCCU standards showed a good match with SFU’s history and values.
An application for consideration for candidacy was submitted to the NWCCU in the fall of 2008 and accepted by the Commission in January 2009. After further deliberation and investigation, a decision was taken by senior management to pursue accreditation by the NWCCU.
In the fall of 2009, Senate and the Board of Governors were advised of senior management’s decision and informed on the process.
Since 2010, information on accreditation has been communicated broadly to the SFU community, with updates to Senate and the Board of Governors; presentations to vice presidents, chairs and directors; the launch of an accreditation web site; articles in SFU News, The Peak, Maclean’s, etc.
A: The NWCCU does not expect or ask any institution to change its policies regarding academic freedom. The NWCCU Accreditation Standard 2.A.28 states:
“Within the context of its mission, core themes, and values, the institution defines and actively promotes an environment that supports independent thought in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. It affirms the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others. While the institution and individuals within the institution may hold to a particular personal, social, or religious philosophy, its constituencies are intellectually free to examine thought, reason, and perspectives of truth. Moreover, they allow others the freedom to do the same.”
A: Accreditation is not granted permanently or for a definite number of years. It is an ongoing status that must be reaffirmed periodically. Now that SFU has achieved initial accreditation with the NWCCU, it enters into a seven-year cycle that consists of regular reporting and peer reviews: Year One Mission and Core Themes Self-Evaluation Report, Mid-Cycle Self Evaluation Report and Year Seven Mission Fulfillment and Sustainability Self-Evaluation Report. Site visits by peer reviewers are part of the Mid-Cycle and Year Seven process. A decision regarding reaffirmation of accreditation takes place at the conclusion of the seven-year cycle.