Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,
Earlier this year, Department of Education Staff and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) recommended that the Department of Education Senior Department Official (SDO) Withdraw accreditation authority from our accreditation agency, ACICS.
As we wrote in our June 27 email to you, we expected the SDO to concur with the staff and Committee recommendations, and to withdraw ACICS's accreditation authority. In September that is exactly what happened.
In the aftermath of that decision, ACICS immediately appealed. As we wrote in our September 23 email to you, we expected that the Secretary of Education would deny the appeal. This week we received news that he has done exactly that.
So what does that mean?
While ACICS has now lost its authority, all colleges and universities accredited by ACICS will have an automatic 18 month extension of their accreditation by the Department of Education. For that reason, CalUMS remains accredited.
In the meantime, ACICS has already begun to seek judicial relief, and has filed for a Temporary Restraining order and Preliminary Injunction in U.S. District Court. That is to say, they are suing--on the grounds that they have not been given the opportunity to demonstrate the many reforms that they have put into place. ACICS is working with a top law firm to petition the U.S. District Court to overturn the Department of Education's decision.
What happens next?
CalUMS has already begun the accreditation application process with an alternative agency. Indeed, we have a daylong meeting scheduled with this other Agency on Monday December 19. It's a process we're accustomed to, since we recertify with ACICS each year.
As we first indicated in our June 27 email, and have emphasized in multiple emails since--this is a process that will play out over years, not months.
To address the many questions that we know people have, we are also including an update to the most Frequently Asked Questions that we have heard. These follow:
Q: Has CalUMS lost its accreditation?
A: No. CalUMS is accredited.
Q: Is CalUMS closing?
A; No! This is an unfounded rumor from over the summer and has no basis in fact whatsoever.
Q: Why is ACICS suing?
A: ACICS is suing because they feel that many accrediting agencies face the same issues they face, but that ACICS has been unfairly singled out. They are further suing to ask the court to give them the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of the many reforms they have put into place. For more information on ACICS's position, please visit: ACICS website
Q: My friend sent me a link (https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2016/12/acics-loss-of-accreditation-what-it-means-for-schools-and-international-students) on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website that foreign students at ACICS schools must leave the country, and that ESL classes can no longer be taught. Is this true?
A: No! DHS is honoring the same 18 month continued accreditation as the Department of Education. It says so right on the website. By the time 18 months have passed, we plan to be accredited by our new, authorized agency. Or ACICS might also win its court case well before the 18 month deadline.
Q: Is CalUMS being targeted? Has the school done anything wrong?
A: No. CalUMS has done nothing wrong, and the school is not being targeted. CalUMS is one of 900 campuses across the country representing more than 800,000 students that are caught up in this situation that is focused on ACICS.
Q: Why is ACICS being targeted?
A: ACICS is receiving additional scrutiny for three reasons: (1) concern generally about for-profit schools, many of which are accredited by ACICS; (2) concern about many ACICS schools that have a poor repayment rate of student loans; and (3) inappropriate (and even fraudulent) activity at a handful of schools accredited by ACICS.
It is instructive to note that none of these issues impact CalUMS: (1) CalUMS is a nonprofit school, not for-profit; (2) CalUMS students do not take out financial aid from the U.S. Government, so repayment rates are a non-issue; and (3) CalUMS works hard (as you all experience) to ensure that required policies relating to attendance, academics, and regulatory matters are followed.
Q: Can I travel to my country during my vacation or break time?
A: Yes, you can travel to your country during the break time and your vacation.
Q: Will I face any issues when I return to the United States?
A: No, you will not face any issues relating to this, as long as you have a valid visa and a signed I-20.
Q: Once I earn my diploma, can it become invalid?
A: No. Your diploma, once granted, will always be valid.
Q: Are alumni affected if ACICS loses its accreditation authority?
A: No, alumni are not affected. A valid diploma, once granted, will always be a valid diploma.
If you hear any stories or rumors, please share them with us! If you keep it to yourself, it will remain a rumor and will cause many people to worry needlessly. If you share it with the office, we can address it and make official announcements to address any concerns you might have.
We hope that this information is helpful. We will continue to monitor this situation and update you with news as it develops.
If you have any question regarding this matter, please contact the administration office or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CalUMS Virginia Administration