Policies Related to the Criteria of The United States Secretary of Education
These policies supplement provisions of Subpart 4-1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents.
Composition of Evaluation and Decision-Making Bodies
The evaluation, policy, and decision-making bodies directly involved in accreditation by the Regents and the Commissioner acting as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency shall include academic and administrative personnel [Ref: 34 CFR 602.15 (a) (3)].
When the Regents and the Commissioner act as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency, the public shall be represented on all decision-making bodies involved in the institutional accreditation function [Ref: 34 CFR 602.15 (a) (5)].
Maintenance of Records of Accreditation Reviews and Decisions
When the Regents and the commissioner act as a nationally recognized institutional
accrediting agency, complete and accurate records of the last two full accreditation
reviews of each institution shall be retained. These records include the
institution's most recent self-study report, on-site evaluation reports,
institutional responses to on-site reports, and other reports, annual reports,
mid-point and other periodic reports, any reports of special reviews conducted
by the Department between regular reviews, all accreditation decisions,
including adverse actions, and all correspondence with the institution that
is significantly related to decisions about its accreditation [Ref:34 CFR
Review of Accreditation Standards
A review of all institutional accreditation standards in Subpart 4-1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents shall be conducted on a repeating four-year cycle. The purpose of the comprehensive review in each cycle will be an examination of the adequacy, in practice, of the standards for the evaluation of educational quality. A review plan and schedule within this cycle shall be developed and implemented by accreditation staff of the Department in consultation with the Regents Advisory Council on Institutional Accreditation. Complaints about accreditation standards or procedures will be considered in the cyclical program of comprehensive review of its standards. In addition, accreditation standards and their applications shall be examined continuously, based on accreditation experience and feedback from pertinent constituencies, to assure currency with evolving standards in distance education and other evolving areas.
The Regents shall initiate action on changes to the standards within 12 months of identifying a need for such changes. Such changes shall take effect within a stated time following formal adoption by the Regents. Revisions of standards or adoption of new standards by the Board of Regents shall take into account any recommendations of the Regents Advisory Council on Institutional Accreditation and shall include an opportunity for comment by accredited institutions, other relevant constituencies, and the public for a period of not less than 45 days [Ref: 34 CFR 602.21(a)].
Review of Complaints
In responding to complaints against itself as an accrediting agency, it is the Department’s policy to ask the office that is the subject of the complaint to review the matter and resolve it if possible or, alternatively, to explain why it cannot be resolved in the manner desired by the complainant. It is Department policy to respond to any such complaints within 30 days of receipt. If the complaint involves a person or persons, it is Department policy to ask an administrator outside the accreditation staff to provide an unbiased assessment of the complaint. If the complaint is about accreditation standards or procedures, it is Department policy to assign the review to the Department’s Office of Counsel to provide an unbiased assessment of the complaint.. A complainant is informed that he or she may directly contact the U.S. Secretary of Education with a complaint regarding the accreditation standards or procedures of the agency [Ref: 34 CFR 602.23 (c)].
Provision for Public Correction of Incorrect or Misleading Information on Accreditation
An institution that designates the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education as its nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency for Title IV purposes shall make public correction, as specified by the Regents and the Commissioner, of incorrect or misleading information related to the accreditation status of the institution, the contents of reports of on-site reviews, or the accreditation actions of the Regents and the Commissioner, with respect to the institution. Subsequent to an investigation, correction may include all or some of the following: (1) posting of the correction on the institution's web site; (2) correction notices in the media in which the misrepresentation has been disseminated; and (3) letters of correction to any agency or organization to which the institution provided the misleading or inaccurate information, all nationally recognized agencies that accredit one or more programs at the institution or the institution as a whole, the U.S. Secretary of Education; or any interested parties that make inquiry about the misrepresentation.
Persistent or serious misrepresentation may provide a basis for adverse accreditation action by the Regents and the Commissioner pursuant to Subpart 4-1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. [Ref: 34 CFR 602.23 (e)].
Notifications of Accreditation Decisions
The following entities shall be notified of the following actions:
- Entities: Secretary of Education (by letter), appropriate accrediting
agencies (by letter), and the public (by public notice in the
New York State Register, published by the New York State Department
of State, and on the accreditation web site of the Office of
- Actions: A decision to award initial accreditation to an institution or to review its accreditation; a final decision to deny, withdraw or terminate the accreditation of an institution; a decision to take adverse accreditation action against an institution or place an institution on probation; or a decision by an accredited institution to withdraw from or let lapse its accreditation.
With respect to those institutions that designate the Board of Regents and the Commissioner as their primary nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency for Title IV purposes, the Department shall provide to the Secretary and appropriate accrediting agencies written notice of any action cited under §602.26(b)(1) or (2) within 30 days of the date the action is taken. Within 60 days after a decision to place an institution on probation or to deny, withdraw, suspend, revoke or terminate an institution’s accreditation, the Board of Regents will provide a brief statement to the Secretary and the public, upon request, summarizing the reasons for the adverse action. It will provide the institution an opportunity to comment with regard to the decision of adverse action and forward those statements and comments, if any, to the Secretary. It will also make such statements and comments, if any, available to the public, upon request.
The Department shall provide public notice of decisions described above through posting with the New York Department of State within 24 hours of notice to the institution, for publication in the New York State Register. The Department shall, within 30 days of receipt of notification from any accredited institution its decision to withdraw voluntarily from accreditation by the Regents and the Commissioner, notify the Secretary and appropriate accrediting agencies of this decision. The Department shall notify the Secretary and appropriate accrediting agencies of any lapse of accreditation within 30 days of the date of lapse [Ref: 34 CFR 602.26].
Information to be Provided to the U.S. Secretary of Education
The Secretary of Education will be provided a copy of any annual report prepared by the Regents and the Commissioner acting in their capacity as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency.
The Secretary of Education will be provided a copy, updated annually, of the directory of institutions accredited by the Regents and the Commissioner acting as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency.
The Secretary of Education will be provided a written data summary of the Regents and the Commissioner’s activities as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency during the previous year if requested by the Secretary.
The Secretary of Education will be provided any proposed change in policies, procedures or accreditation standards that might affect the Regents and the commissioner's scope of recognition or compliance with the criteria for recognition at the same time such proposed change is published in the State Register.
The Secretary of Education will be provided the name of any institution or program that the Regents and the Commissioner have reason to believe is failing to meet its HEA Title IV responsibilities or is engaged in fraud or abuse, together with the reasons for the Department's concern.
The Secretary of Education will be provided information in the possession of the Regents and the Commissioner related to an accredited institution's compliance with its HEA Title IV responsibilities upon request of the Secretary [Ref: 34 CFR 602.27].
Regard for the Decisions of States and Other Accrediting Agencies
The Secretary of Education will be provided a thorough explanation, consistent with the Regents and the Commissioner's institutional accreditation standards, of why it is accrediting an institution that has been denied accreditation or is under adverse action by another nationally recognized agency. The Regents and the Commissioner will provide this explanation within 30 days of the accreditation action.
The Regents and the Commissioner will, upon request, share with other appropriate recognized agencies and state approval agencies information about the accreditation status of an institution and any adverse actions taken against an accredited institution [Ref: 34 CFR 602.28].