The Perils of Honor By Association as a One-Way Street: RA vs. NA

edusa logoAs I’ve stated on numerous occasions, I wish the US government (USG) would find a way to exclude nationally accredited (NA) institutions from involvement in fairs or any kind of EducationUSA activity, for that matter.  (I noticed two on the list for the January fairs in Vietnam.)  NA schools are what I like to refer to as the distant higher education cousins of regionally accredited (RA) colleges and universities, and do not deserve to be in the same place at the same time, in my opinion.

In Good Company

The NA schools derive two benefits from their participation in this event:  1) credibility and honor by association; and 2) related to #1, the imprimatur of the USG, at least in the eyes of Vietnamese students and parents, most of whom are unaware of the fact that most RA schools will not accept credits or degrees from NA schools.  (Why is that?, this blogger asks rhetorically?)  The perception is be that NA schools are in the same league, that they’re all on a level playing field, because they are all US institutions of higher education.  From the perspective of NA schools you can’t put a price tag on that kind of publicity.  It reminds me of the tagline in that old MasterCard ad – priceless.  As far as RA institutions are concerned, the benefits are definitely not mutual, i.e., this street is of the one-way variety. priceless

While I understand that exclusion of NA schools may not be possible, most likely because of legal reasons (they are, after all, US corporations or organizations that will insist their government is legally obligated to promote them overseas), then at least make it clear on the EducationUSA website, at every advising center and, in the case of US higher education fairs, to all attendees in pre-fair publicity and information distributed at the events, that the majority of RA schools do no accept credits or degrees from NA schools.  Provide them with this important information so students are not left holding the bag if they earn a BA from a NA school and want to pursue a graduate degree at a RA school, which refuses to accept their credential.  That’s called fairness and truth in advertising.

According to a 2005 study by the US Government Accountability Office (PDF download), or GAO, 84% of U.S. higher education institutions considered whether the sending institution is accredited, and many had policies stating that they would accept credits only from regionally accredited institutions.  About 63% told the GAO that they would accept credit from any regionally accredited institution, but only 14% similarly accepted credits from nationally accredited schools.


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