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ACICS Sanctions Danish Business College

October 9, 2018

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, an embattled national accrediting agency, has sanctioned Niels Brock, a Danish business college, over concerns that the college lacks approval from the Danish government to issue bachelor's degrees.

The Obama administration two years ago derecognized ACICS, which mostly accredits for-profit institutions, amid criticism of its oversight of Corinthian Colleges and other failed colleges. Earlier this month a U.S. Department of Education official recommended that Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, restore ACICS, writing that the accreditor was mostly in compliance and citing a federal court's finding that the Obama administration did not consider all relevant evidence when it terminated ACICS.

ACICS remains controversial, however.

In September, Information, a Danish publication, reported that the Danish government officially views Niels Brock to be a high school, or "upper secondary" institution, and that the college lacks authority to issue four-year degrees. ACICS accredits Niels Brock, which offers bachelor's degree programs at its Copenhagen campus and relies heavily on international students for whom the imprimatur of an American accrediting agency is an important distinction.

ACICS last week wrote Niels Brock to inform the college that it must "show cause" for why its accreditation status should not be removed. The accreditor said Niels Brock is offering and advertising for degree programs for which it failed to secure ACICS approval. Niels Brock previously received a warning from ACICS for a substandard campus placement rate, and the accreditor placed one of the bachelor's programs on show cause for a low placement rate.

"Offering unapproved programs and a failure to demonstrate compliance with ACICS eligibility criteria call into question the administrative capability of the leadership" of the college, ACICS said.

Paul Gaston, a Trustees Professor at Kent State University and an expert on accreditation, said institutional accreditors in the U.S. tend to not oversee many international colleges, if any. Despite a steep drop-off in the number of its member colleges in recent years, he said ACICS accredits colleges in roughly 10 countries.

In the case of Niels Brock, Gaston said the college appeared to be using ACICS to "circumvent" Danish law, as Information reported.

"They were not authorized from Denmark to offer bachelor's degrees," he said.


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