Higher Learning Commission

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the largest of the six regional accreditation agencies in the United States. It serves higher educational institutions in nineteen states stretching from Arizona to West Virginia.

To make determinations about accreditation, the Commission has established the Criteria for Accreditation, standards of quality that institutions are expected to address. The Criteria emerge out of a set of guiding values that are grounded in shared tenets of the academic community. Because the standards against which UE will be evaluated are common expectations at colleges and universities, looking at our policies, practices and outcomes will be more than just an exercise in accountability. It will be an opportunity for us to respond to those things that matter both to us at UE and to the larger higher education community.

The HLC’s guiding values, listed below, undergird the specific criteria and requirements that UE will be expected to demonstrate. More complete explanations for each may be found in the New Criteria for Accreditation.

  • Focus on student learning
  • Education as a public purpose
  • Education for a diverse, technological, globally connected world
  • A culture of continuous improvement
  • Evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation
  • Integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior or practice
  • Governance for the well-being of the institution
  • Planning and management of resources to ensure institutional sustainability
  • Mission-centered evaluation
  • Accreditation through peer review

The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which the Commission determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. The five criteria are listed below. A complete list of the following criteria with their core components can be found on the HLC Website.

Criterion One. Mission
The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Criterion Two. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Criterion Three. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Criterion Four. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

Criterion Five. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.

To maintain our accreditation, UE must demonstrate that we are meeting the five Criteria AND all of the Core Components. From the HLC Criteria for Accreditation: “The institution meets the Criterion only if all Core Components are met. The institution must be judged to meet all five Criteria for Accreditation to merit accreditation.”

Simultaneous with the more public work on the assurance argument will be other accreditation-related activities that will engage smaller numbers of people on campus but that are no less important. One of these is assuring that UE policy and practice adheres to a set of articulated minimum expectations (called “Assumed Practices”) that all institutions must comply with as a practical matter. These are not mission-driven or open to individual institutional interpretation as the Criteria are; rather, these are expected practices that each institution must demonstrate.

Another undertaking is the Federal Compliance Program. Some of the topics addressed in the Federal Compliance Program include credits and program length, student complaints, transfer policies, Title IV, advertising and recruitment, relationships with state entities, and third party comment. The HLC site visit team will conduct an audit to ensure that UE meets the requirements outlined in the Federal Compliance Program.

Contact the Steering Committee at hlc_answers@evansville.edu