Accreditation is a voluntary peer review process. It acknowledges educational programs and/or institutions for achieving and maintaining a level of quality, performance, and integrity based on educational standards. These standards are set by educators and evaluate competencies in a university's curriculum, its organization, as well as its methods of instruction. They are also based on regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.
As an impartial assessment with universal recognition, accreditation attests to the excellence of the university, thereby assisting in attracting quality students, faculty, and staff. Through a self-study process, feedback is gathered from many stakeholders, who by their participation clarify their roles and contribute to advancing the institution. Accreditation also provides for the institution to participate in the federal financial aid program, and increases the likelihood that other institutions will accept transfer credits.
National University of Health Sciences has a strong history as a leader in accreditation of the professional fields represented by our academic programs, and we value our relationship with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and other programmatic accreditors.
In 2015, as part of our normal 10-year HLC evaluation process, National University completed a self-study report, in which the university identified areas of desired improvement. The HLC site team visited the campus on September 28-29, 2015. The HLC Board of Trustees identified similar areas for needed improvement, and as a result, National University received Notice status regarding three criteria on July 11, 2016. Please note that National University continues to be accredited by the HLC as we address these various areas of improvement. We remain committed to our HLC accreditation, as we have been since 1981.
There is no change in our student educational status or qualification for financial aid or the ability for our graduates to obtain licensure in their chosen field. The HLC Notice status has been given to NUHS primarily due to matters regarding the documentation of data collection and analysis, and how that data impacts institutional assessment and planning as it relates to student success. The quality of our faculty and staff and the quality of our student performance was not questioned in the site team's report. National University remains accredited by HLC and the new language is meant to give stakeholders the ability to understand the quality improvement processes that are taking place on campus.
This webpage is designed to be a dynamic web resource to help you understand the Notice designation and the measures we are putting in place to meet, and exceed, the HLC requirements in the years ahead. We will host a focused visit with HLC in early 2018 to share our continued progress in the following areas.
Prior to the self-study report, NUHS began the process of evaluating the Assessment Plan. It was determined that additional infrastructure was needed to achieve what was desired. Student advising was immediately expanded with the need for documentation. Faculty-Staff development was soon to follow. Following the self-study, the organizational chart was modified and additional personnel were assigned to assessment. Academic Assessment became Institutional Effectiveness. The level of expectation of the HLC assessment initiative was determined. A new Learning Management System (Cygnet) was determined to be needed for the online program. Additionally, a formal, documentable process of using a template termed the Assessment Record Overview (ARO) was initiated at the dean/director level. The Department of Institutional Effectiveness determined that a new Student Information System-Customer Relations Management System (SIS-CRM) was also needed to access additional data. Since that time, National University has started the review and updating of its 2016-17 Assessment Plan. (See University Progress below).
The following is an outline of the HLC general language and clarification on how that language pertains to National University.
Criteria Four, Core Component 4A - 'institution demonstrates responsibility for quality of educational programs'
Therefore, NUHS is developing an improved, more extensively documented process and assessment plan for each program that includes broader strategies to measure learning outcomes and program evaluation and improvement through the use of a formal process. By using template forms to follow the process, the gathering of data, analyzing that data, making changes, and collecting continuing data to determine the outcome of the change will essentially close the loop on the assessment process. Moreover, the institution is improving the ability to more easily discover how the outcomes and assessments are linked across programs and provide opportunity for change agents to appreciate trending data.
Criteria Four, Core Component 4B - 'institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning'
NUHS is documenting an improved, more extensive assessment plan for student learning that includes strategies to measure student-learning outcomes through data and trend analysis. NUHS is formalizing the assessment of co-curricular activities in regard to student learning. NUHS is connecting outcomes data such as retention and graduation rates specifically to teaching and learning. A continued emphasis remains on student learning through faculty development for modifying pedagogy to document how the faculty is helping the students to learn. Assessments will be augmented to analyze the effect on student learning due to curriculum changes.
Criteria Five, Core Component 5C - 'institution engages in systematic and integrated planning'
In September 2016, National University employed its new institutional plan that provides direct connection to both departmental and institutional goals with budget center detail on a more granular level. The new plan, with its expanded format, will be further developed such that the institutional assessment plan and student learning outcomes become more relatable to components of the campus plan. Areas of focus will include technology, facilities, enrollment, etc., and make effective use of data and trend analysis. Budgets will be attached to all of the plans taking into account the integration of those plans and how they foster student success.
Initially, the 2016-17 Assessment Plan has identified key components to be used in the assessment and improvement of four areas of the university: Program-Department-Institutional Outcomes; Curricular Effectiveness; Student Learning, and Resource Planning. Please check back soon to review our detailed Assessment Plan.
This page will be regularly updated as National University makes continued progress to address each area of improvement. We invite you to return on a regular basis to keep informed about our advancement through the process.
If you have questions regarding National University's accreditation status, you may contact:
National University of Health Sciences
Dr. Randy Swenson
Vice President for Academic Services
200 E. Roosevelt Road
Lombard, IL 60148
Higher Learning Commission