For many Boston University students, an accredited university has become synonymous with a ‘real’ university.
‘Of course, I like the fact BU is accredited,’ College of Arts and Sciences freshman Kayla Baker said. ‘I wouldn’t have chosen to come here if it wasn’t a real school.’
BU, which was last accredited in 1999, faces reaccreditation procedure by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges this year. Institutions must go through the certification process every 10 years. NEASC, one of six college-level accrediting organizations in the United States, makes sure schools utilize their resources appropriately and maintain financial stability.
Accreditation is required to receive financial benefits such as federal loans, grants for research and funds for much assistance with student tuition.
‘Students want a place that is trustworthy,’ NEASC Commission on Higher Education Director Barbara Brittingham said. ‘They want to be able to say, ‘Here’s a place that has been reviewed on just about everything, so it must be a pretty sound university that won’t go away anytime soon.”
A team of 24 people will visit BU this month for three days to follow up on BU’s 100-page self-evaluation report. The site team of peer reviewers is made up of 20 senior educators from other accredited colleges and universities, as well as four members of the public.
Accreditation is crucial for BU’s respected reputation, Stephen Brady, BU psychiatry professor and former committee chairman for curriculum and academic polices, said.
‘It is essential to the history of BU that we continue to be accredited every decade,’ Brady said. ‘The only way we are allowed to be ranked among the top 100 universities in the U.S. is due to our accreditation status.’
Douglas Sears, BU associate provost and chairman of the reaccreditation committee, agreed that accreditation is extremely important for private universities.
‘Through the voluntary peer review system, we can protect the integrity of our university,’ Sears said. ‘Are students getting jobs after they graduate?’ Are they matriculating into law or medical schools and passing entrance exams? These are all questions the site reviewers are asking.’
Sears said the NEASC review system places more emphasis on the overall long-term value of a BU education to a student than it did 10 years ago. Reviewers will also focus its evaluation on BU’s strategic plan, he said.
‘There are many ways to measure the quality of a university, and one measure is meeting the accreditation standards,’ Sears said. ‘President Brown’s ‘One BU’ will be carefully reviewed in terms of progress that we’re seeing from it.’
School of Medicine Dean Karen Antman said even though there are many advantages that medical schools receive once they are accredited by NEASC, schools such as the School of Medicine and the School of Management care more about their individual accrediting bodies.
‘It is important that we are recognized not only as part of BU, but as an independent medical institution,’ Antman said.
A forum will take place on March 30 at 4:15 p.m. in Metcalf Hall for students to open dialogue with the accreditation team, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said.