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As part of our ongoing efforts to share information, the UET Online Magazine features important announcements on events and learning opportunities for bargaining unit employees. Listed below are links to specific timely information for UET Members. Create or update your User Profile by clicking MyUET to receive program updates and the UET Online Magazine by e-mail.

Issue 24: 12/27/2023

The Importance of an Accredited Education: UET Standard Ensures Quality for Participants

The Importance of an Accredited Education: UET Standard Ensures Quality for Participants

Reading through the descriptions of the Union Education Trust educational assistance programs, there’s a word that pops up frequently: “accredited.” Your UET benefits can be used at accredited training providers and the program’s policy is that the accreditation be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. What does that mean, does it really matter, and how do you know if the school you’re considering is accredited?

It matters a great deal: Accreditation is a way to ensure that an institution is offering training that meets a high level of standards. It’s quality control for schooling. In turn, that means the student knows they’ll be getting the education they and UET are paying for.

Defining Accreditation

“Accreditation is the overarching standard of excellence,” said Dorothy Fenwick, PhD., president, Association of Commissions.

“The bottom line on accreditation is because the United States does not have an overarching, authorizing body, we do it independently,” Fenwick said. “That’s one of the reasons accreditation was established.”

“Accreditation” is the process a school or program goes through to prove that it is providing training that meets industry standards. It is a way of showing accountability. Accreditation is also optional – schools are required to be licensed by the state but do not have to be accredited -- but that added standard lends institutions legitimacy and credibility.

Because the U.S. Department of Education does not monitor accreditation, the American Council on Education – the association of U.S. universities and colleges – created the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in 1996 to recognize accrediting agencies.

There are several types of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic. Regional accreditation is for colleges and universities. In Ohio, public and private colleges and universities are usually accredited at the institutional level by the North Central Association. This means that the accreditation applies to the entire school. Some programs are accredited within a college or university, such as medical programs. National accreditation applies to trade schools and vocational colleges, among others.

There are several other reasons to pay attention to the accreditation status of your potential school. First, earned credits from a regionally accredited school transfer easier to another school because they have met the agreed-upon standard. Second, graduate schools respect your degree for the same reason. Third, potential employers know that their hire has attained a specific education. Fourth, federal financial aid will only be given to students at accredited programs. This includes federal loans, grants, and scholarships as well as federal work study programs.

The Process of Accreditation

When a school or program applies for accreditation, they are entering a months-to-year-long, multi-step project. The process begins with a self-study prepared by the applying institution. The self-study covers details including planning, curriculum, instructional resources, administration, financial resources, and student support services.

“In other words, you tell in a narrative exactly what your program does and what are the outcomes of the program,” Fenwick explained. “Then you put together a team of several people from other similar accredited programs and they visit your program and write up a report.”

That report and the self-study are reviewed by the accrediting agency. If the program is meeting the standards, a grant of accreditation for between seven and ten years is issued, Fenwick said. Accreditation establishes a baseline and standard of training, she said.

“A classic example is hospitality,” Fenwick said. “In 1994, the restaurant association said we have no criteria for basic training for the people we hire in restaurants. Therefore, let’s establish something. So, they did.”

“What are the basic educational needs of a person we want to hire? They established nine standards,” Fenwick added. “The standards were established by the industry and approved by the academics: This is the minimum that you need to do to turn out a qualified person to work in hotel or a restaurant management.”

UET Protects the Quality of Your Education

UET works with the Association of Commissions to verify the credentials of training programs of interest to UET members. This is just another way that UET protects participants, so they get the most out of their continuing education efforts.

“For instance, if it’s a conference, we look at the agenda and the specific tracks or sessions to see if it would be eligible for CEUs [Continuing Education Units],” said Dottie Samonisky, executive assistant with AOC. “For the majority, we can find that the tracks of the session would meet the criteria for CEU and would be approved.”

UET participants put a lot of time and effort into taking continuing education. The program wants to ensure their learning outcomes.

“That’s what’s important: that it is a reputable program,” Samonisky said. “UET is ensuring the quality of the education course or training.”


How you know if the school you’re considering is accredited:

U.S. Department of Education’s directory of universities and colleges: https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home

CHEA’s directory of approved accrediting agencies: https://www.chea.org/chea-and-usde-recognized-accrediting-organizations