AAU is one of few universities globally—and the first institution in Europe— to have received the prestigious accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), an American accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. AAU’s Vice President for Academic Quality, Katarína Stehlíková, shares how and why AAU has received the prestigious accreditation.
Can you tell us a little more about WSCUC?
WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accredits nearly 200 universities in the United States and abroad, including the prestigious Chapman University, the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. AAU was granted WSCUC accreditation in June 2016 for a period of six years, through 2022.
Why did AAU apply for WSCUC accreditation?
There were several reasons, the most important being that we wanted to prove we are a truly “Anglo-American” institution. This means meeting the standards for institutions in this educational area. Secondly, we wanted to strengthen our connection with the American educational sector and make sure we remain on the cutting edge. To obtain accreditation, we had to make sure all our processes and operations were in line with the standards of US universities.
Why is AAU the first university in Europe with WSCUC accreditation?
WSCUC is primarily focused on serving US institutions in their region: California and the Pacific, the Commission chose to go international only in 2011. After several years, they chose to refocus on their home region. As a result, only nine international institutions have been awarded accreditation, and three more are still working towards it, including two in Europe (Madrid and Istanbul).
What was the biggest challenge for AAU to overcome in obtaining the accreditation?
We had to change a few things in the way we function, for example strengthening the shared governance model by establishing the Faculty Senate, expanding the number of members on the Board of Trustees, formalizing our strategic planning process, and establishing the Institutional Research Office to strengthen our data-driven decision making.
During the accreditation process, what aspects of AAU impressed the commission most?
Specifically, WSCUC has been impressed by our work in academia, recognizing our progress in assessment of learning outcomes, the commitment of our faculty and staff, and the unique culture AAU has. The commission also liked the manner in which we successfully combined WASC requirements with those of the Czech Ministry of Education.
The findings of the review team from its third visit to AAU in March 2016 are presented in a Team Report. The Commission reviewed the Report together with other materials and then conducted a panel review with AAU representatives. The decision to grant AAU Initial Accreditation was communicated in the official Commission Action Letter. These materials are also available on the WSCUC website.
How does the WSCUC accreditation benefit learners at AAU?
Having a diploma with WSCUC accreditation means that our students have direct access to the US educational and job market, as if they had studied in the US. This opens the door to the whole world, thanks to the nearly global recognition of a US degree. On top of that, the accreditation assures potential students of the quality of education at AAU and the value of the investment.
Publication date: July 28, 2017