Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
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The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools or ACICS is an academic accreditation agency that is supposed to certify post-secondary schools . Instead they have accredited substandard schools such as the famous example of ITT Tech and even non-existent schools such as "Reagan National University". In 2016, following the collapse of ITT Tech, the Department of Education stripped them of their accreditation. However
in the pursuit of undoing everything Obama did the result of a judge ordering the matter be re-investigated, saw their Department of Education accreditation restored, thanks to Betsy DeVos. This accreditation agency and the colleges it deems worthy of federal money, has also been a source of controversy for the Trump Administration i.e Betsy DeVos.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools was formed in 1912. They were notorious for only accrediting for-profit schools, several of which went under in the 2010s. The bankruptcies included high-profile cases that screwed over hundreds of thousands of students. This was on top of allegations of said for-profit schools and their degrees being utterly worthless. In 2015, ACICS oversaw 725 institutions and 3.3 billion dollars in federal financial aid.. Might as well light that 3.3 billion dollars on fire for the same price.
ITT Tech went bankrupt in 2016, under the weight of growing accusations that the college was a joke and not worth the absurd amount of money that they charged. This closure screwed over tens of thousands of students, now stuck with a half-finished education, that would be difficult to transfer, and cost an idiotic amount of money, or dealing with trying to get the loans discharged and scrapping what they had started working on.
Reagan National University
Reagan National University, was a 'university' located in Sioux Falls, SD. It started out in 2010 as "Si Tanka University" but changed its name to "Reagan National University" in 2017. It was accredited by ACICS in 2017.[note 1]
A USA Today investigation revealed broken class registration web pages, professors who actively denied working at Reagan National, or simply don't appear to exist beyond the university's website. The university's president, Harold Harris, also doesn't seem to exist beyond their website. Visiting the physical addresses listed for the university on two separate days during the start of spring semester in most universities revealed locked doors and an empty office suite.
In emails exchanged with reporters, ACICS president and CEO Michelle Edwards defended the accreditation process. She noted that when it was accredited in 2017 it was "out of compliance" in some areas, which they were expected to address. Bafflingly, this contradicts a statement from Edwards about the accreditation process in those same emails, "ACICS Accreditation Criteria does not allow for the awarding of an initial grant or new grant of accreditation unless ALL standards have been met."
In January 2019, ACICS questioned why Reagan National had a job placement rate of 0%. By May, they had satisfied ACICS that the matter was being corrected, somehow.
In December 2019, ACICS expressed concerns in a letter over the course catalog and grading system following a site visit. Among these concerns was a computer science class that dealt with networks and mini-computers that didn't have any of the equipment needed to deal with either networks or mini-computers. Reagan National was given until 7 February, 2020 to provide a plan for addressing these concerns.
On February 8, 2020, Reagan National University had their accreditation withdrawn.
Evidence suggests that Reagan National may have been trying to operate as a "visa mill", a institution that provides student visas with no intention of offering an education to those individuals. An investigation revealed connections between Reagan and Northern Virginia University, an unaccredited "university" that the state closed in 2013 after they were accused of being a "visa mill" by ICE.
Daymar College is a school with campuses in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee that is career focused and has high tuition costs. Daymar's sole accreditation is from ACICS. Like ITT Tech the educational quality of Daymar College is very dubious. Student reviews shine a very negative light on the system of the Daymar campuses. The main complaint among the reviews is the low quality of education. Starting to see a pattern here with ACICS schools?
As of February 2020, 63 institutions are accredited by ACICS. In spite of regaining status with the Department of Education, they do not expect to break even financially until at least 2023, as a result of a significant drop in colleges under their accreditation (and thus their income), and legal costs.
- Corinthian Colleges - A for-profit 'college' that collapsed in 2015.
- See the Wikipedia article on Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
- Donald Trump
- In 2017, ACICS had lost its status with Dept. of Education, which makes the choice to seek accreditation from ACICS rather interesting.
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools. ACICS - Background. (Archive).
- Quintana, Chris. Conlon, Shelly. USA TODAY. 15 February, 2020. This college was accredited by a DeVos-sanctioned group. We couldn’t find evidence of students or faculty..
- Harris, Adam. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 25 March, 2018. Federal Judge Hands a Victory to Embattled Accreditor.
- Harris, Adam. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 7 February, 2018. DeVos’s Education Dept. Relaxed Rules for For-Profits Under Accreditor That Closed.
- Halperin, David. HuffPost. 21 January, 2016. Blockbuster Lawsuit Claims Abusive Practices Persist at ITT Tech.
- Camera, Lauren. US News & World Report. 22 September, 2016. Education Department Strips Authority of Largest For-Profit Accreditor.
- Camera, Lauren. US News & World Report. 6 September, 2016. ITT Tech Closes its Doors.
- Niraj Warikoo, Undercover ICE recordings reveal tactics of fake university that led to 250 students arrested. USA Today, 7 January 2020.
- Kreighbaum, Andrew. Inside Higher ED. 4 June, 2019. Embattled Accreditor Projects Losses After Closure of Member Colleges.