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Accreditation resolution uncertain for US IEPs

After two sessions at NAFSA yesterday which addressed the accreditation issue surrounding US intensive English programs (IEPs) operating on campus, the sector is more hopeful that a resolution might be reached. However, it is clear there is some way to go before the US government, via the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), achieves cohesion with the sector on the new law.

AAIEP wants to work with other stakeholder associations and SEVP to clarify government requirements

"If SEVP can put exactly what they are looking for in writing, that would help"

IEPs operating on campus, and under the umbrella accreditation of their host institution, have to “prove” their accreditation status in order to be able to continue issuing I-20s required to enrol international students – something many claim they were unaware of. SEVP is interpreting the new Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act, which set a deadline of last December for IEPs to have begun an independent accreditation process if required.

This proof can, in essence, be achieved by IEPs – delegates were told – if the host institution testifies that the ESL-teaching department is covered by its umbrella accreditation and the regional accrediting bodies can provide a letter confirming this.

One problem, however, is that IEPs are unsure that regional accrediting bodies – who have never before been approached to provide affidavits – will respond appropriately.

IEPs are unsure that regional accrediting bodies will respond appropriately

Patricia Juza, VP for advocacy at AAIEP and director of Baruch College in New York, told The PIE News that in some cases the accrediting bodies had been very supportive. “In other cases, they have issued a blanket statement and that’s a problem because SEVP hasn’t judged that to be sufficient,” she said.

AAIEP now wants to work with other stakeholder associations and SEVP to clarify government requirements. “If SEVP can put exactly what they are looking for [from regional accrediting bodies] in writing, that would help, so the next step is we are working on the language,” said Juza.

The sector did not expect SEVP to follow the law so closely, requiring proof of ESL-specific accreditation for on-campus operations, as we reported here.

“This is no doubt a complex issue and we are working diligently with the accrediting agencies”

At SEVP’s Analysis and Operations Center (SAOC), Susanna Warner, SAOC Chief at SEVP U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The PIE News: “As SEVP has begun the enforcement process we’ve recognized that the enforcement of the Act is a complex issue with various scenarios and interpretations that need to be addressed.

“This is no doubt a complex issue and we are working diligently with the accrediting agencies to determine the English language training programs of study that are not accredited or did not apply for accreditation as required by the statute.”

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4 Responses to Accreditation resolution uncertain for US IEPs

  1. Pingback: The IEP Accreditation Act: NAFSA Seeks Clarification from SEVP | Tri-Logos & Associates, Inc. - Education Consultants

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