By Laura Phillips, Staff Writer-
Within the next month, UTC will be evaluated to determine if the university should be reaccredited.
According to the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, UTC has been accredited since 1910, and the accreditation has been granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Cindy Williamson, director of assessment and SACSCOC liaison from the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Institutional Research, offered more information regarding the process of accreditation.
“Accreditation is a process in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are held to certain standards,” she said. “The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities.”
Williams said accreditation is important to a university because it holds schools to higher standards and makes students’ degrees more meaningful, as well as allows students to receive federal financial aid.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “In order for students to receive federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education for postsecondary study, the institution must be accredited by a ‘nationally recognized’ accrediting agency (or, for certain vocational institutions, approved by a recognized state approval agency), be authorized by the State in which the institution is located, and receive approval from the Department through a program participation agreement.”
For students, going to an accredited school can assist them in their search for a job.
According to Williamson, going to a non-accredited university can show that the school did not meet certain standards and can cause an employer not to hire someone.
“Employers who require bachelor’s degrees for certain position may not hire someone who has a bachelor’s degree from an unaccredited institution because it could mean that the coursework wasn’t rigorous enough,” she said. “Faculty don’t have the appropriate credentials, or that some other important standard of higher education institutions was not met.”
Williamson said reaffirmation occurs routinely at institutions accredited by SACSCOC.
“Reaffirmation is every 10 years and then there is a fifth-year report in between each Reaffirmation,” she said.
One student, Savannah Shoemaker, a junior, expressed her belief of the importance of going to an accredited university.
“To me, accreditation means my investment in higher education is that much more valuable,” Shoemaker said. “In a way, it validated my investment. It proves that my education and degree are of the best quality in the candidate pool.”
Williamson and Shoemaker agreed that accreditation is an important thing for an institution to have, especially in the case of a university like UTC.
“A degree from an accredited institution is more meaningful than one from an unaccredited institution,” said Williamson. “What it boils down to is that if it is possible for an institution or program to be accredited, they should want to undergo that process.”