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ACCREDITATION UPDATE

Upper Iowa University has been working with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to address a concern related to one of our distance learning centers.

In the fall of 2013, UIU became aware of potential instances of improper conduct at one of our distance Education Centers in Louisiana. We began an extensive investigation and voluntarily notified the U.S. Department of Education. Our investigation revealed that a small number of employees improperly handled financial aid funds and manipulated academic records for students at that particular Education Center. The employees involved in these activities were dismissed.

We also undertook an extensive review of our policies and procedures and made revisions to prevent misconduct in the future. We self-reported our findings to the HLC, resulting in the HLC designating the University as "Accredited - On Notice." This means that UIU has met the Criteria for Accreditation with the HLC, but UIU is at risk of not meeting accreditation criteria in the future. Efforts have already been made to address these concerns, and we will continue to make improvements.

We are fully committed to working with the HLC over the next two years to remove the "on notice" designation. In the meantime:

  • UIU remains fully accredited by HLC
  • UIU students are still eligible for financial aid
  • The exceptional quality of instruction remains unchanged

Additional information is available in the timeline and Q&A below. Students or prospective students with additional questions can contact: 

Dr. P. Joan Poor
Provost
Upper Iowa University
poorp43@uiu.edu
563-425-5284

Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411 
info@hlcommission.org
312-263-0456

Timeline

  • March 8, 2017: UIU received the first notice from HLC of Accredited – On Notice designation. Public Disclosure Notice (PDF) on HLC website 
  • March 10, 2017: UIU leadership met with the Board of Trustees, conducted a University-wide employee forum, and sent email communications to current students and employees about the On Notice designation 

  • August 2018 (or eight weeks prior to Focus Visit): HLC will notify UIU about its Focus Visit date
  • September 2018 (or earlier): HLC will conduct the Focus Visit to UIU
  • February 2019: HLC Board meets to review designation

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why was UIU put on notice by the Higher Learning Commission?

In the fall of 2013, UIU became aware of potential instances of improper conduct at one of our distance Education Centers in Louisiana.  We began an extensive investigation and voluntarily notified the U.S. Department of Education.  Our investigation revealed that a small number of employees improperly handled financial aid funds and manipulated academic records for students at that particular Education Center.  The employees involved in these activities were dismissed.  We also undertook an extensive review of our policies and procedures and made revisions to prevent future misconduct.  We self-reported our findings to the HLC, resulting in the HLC designating the University as "Accredited - On Notice." UIU will work with the HLC over the next two years to remove the "On Notice" designation. In the meantime, UIU remains fully accredited.

Q. Is UIU still accredited?  

Upper Iowa University is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Upper Iowa University continues to offer students an exceptional education.

Q. How does this impact my UIU education and financial aid?

This status does not change UIU students' eligibility for federal financial aid nor does it affect UIU's quality of instruction. UIU degrees - even when granted during the "On Notice" status - are recognized as being awarded from a fully-accredited university.

Q. What does "On Notice" mean?

"On Notice" means that the HLC determined that UIU continues to comply with HLC Criteria for Accreditation, but HLC is requiring the University to demonstrate that it will continue to meet these criteria. In response to these concerns, the University conducted a comprehensive review of our policies and procedures, initiated new staff training, and added a new position, reporting to the President, tasked with compliance management, among other efforts. We are fully committed to working with the HLC over the next two years to remove the "On Notice" designation.

Q. Was this widespread?  How many locations were impacted?

Students at one distance Education Center in Louisiana were impacted. The small number of personnel who were involved were dismissed. Their actions were completely contrary to UIU's culture and values. We have made many changes to prevent similar misconduct in the future.

Q. What happened to the people who committed the acts in question?

The handful of individuals connected to this matter were dismissed from Upper Iowa University.  

Q. What has been done to ensure that it will not happen again?

We completed an extensive review of UIU’s policies and procedures and made significant revisions to prevent misconduct in the future.

Q. I was a UIU student. Was I affected by this?

Students at only one distance Education Center in Louisiana were impacted. The University is communicating directly with the students who could be impacted.

Q. Will UIU credits still transfer? Will this affect my admission into a graduate program?

Each higher education institution makes its own determination about which credits they will or will not accept for transfers or admission into graduate programs. UIU remains a fully accredited institution. Students desiring to advance their education at another institution are encouraged to speak directly with that institution regarding admissions criteria.

Q. What is the timeline for HLC's review of removing the "On Notice" status?

We are fully committed to working with the HLC over the next two years to remove the “On Notice” designation. UIU will host an HLC Focus Visit no later than September 2018.  The HLC Board will then convene at its regularly scheduled February 2019 meeting to review UIU’s status and take any applicable actions. 

Q. What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)?

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states. The Higher Learning Commission can be reached at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413.

Q. What is accreditation?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, accreditation is the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Upper Iowa University remains fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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