Anglo-American University is the first international university accepted to apply for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Candidacy Status, and students should expect changes. This process could raise the difficulty of studies, create new exchange programs, and make an AAU diploma more recognized internationally. Feedback on the process from WASC officials has been very positive, AAU is following all of the committee’s recommendations and is a promising candidate for accreditation.
According to Vice President and Accreditation Liaison Officer Katarina Svitkova, this accreditation will change AAU in two main ways, “First, the quality of education will increase, second, a diploma [from]Anglo-American university would have not only Czech accreditation, but also an American accreditation.”
The increase in the quality of education might affect the difficulty of defending a thesis, as well as the overall difficulty of studying in AAU, says Svitkova.
As stated in Article I of the WASC constitution, the outcome of receiving an American accreditation will result in new exchange programs with top universities in the U.S. including, Princeton, Chapman University, The University of California, and others around the globe.
Svitkova says WASC accreditation will put AAU on a new level in the global market. It will confirm that the level of education at AAU is equal to universities in United States.
According to WASC committee, new types of general courses could be offered. The idea being that AAU will change from the ground level and will offer a more competent education.
Although the last visit of the commission resulted in positive feedback, there are some areas AAU still needs to improve to fully correspond to WASC standards. Svitkova says this is exactly what AAU is currently working on with great devotion.
Zarina Baitugelova, a senior humanities student, says the accreditation means a lot to her. She is graduating soon and would like AAU to be approved by WASC because it will make her diploma more prestigious.
Some of the students haven’t heard of WASC accreditation, yet they believe accreditation is certainly necessary and wish for it to happen soon so their diplomas would be more qualified.
For those students unfamiliar with WASC, the association was formed in 1962 to promote the development of higher education, and it is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Currently they accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities, and AAU is part of its new pilot program which includes international universities.
According to the WASC Senior College and University Commission’s webpage (WascSenior.org), WASC is devoted to improving the quality of education in accredited universities. They are determined to improving the success of students, both within the walls of academia and on the job market.
AAU is currently undertaking deep improvements required by WASC. Vice President of the WASC commission Richard Osborn says, “[Since the start of the process] AAU has made great progress in its program of educational effectiveness, including the development of learning outcomes in many programs, assessment and program review.”
This means that courses at AAU are becoming more effective in teaching students and learning outcome and assessment committees have been created to ensure this. Svitkova says the aim of these committees is to measure the success of students, and to find areas of improvement in courses’ effectiveness. The evaluation and re-evaluation of AAU’s curriculum is in-depth currently. Each school is being reviewed and individual instructors assessed.
Noting the great improvements at AAU, Osborn comments, “To receive accreditation AAU must not only meet all standards of WASC. They should be met on substantial level.” Standards require integrity and transparency as virtues, qualified faculty and programs, graduates receiving stated levels, more versatile curriculum activities, and a better evaluation of the functioning of AAU.
AAU is currently in the first stage. To pass this stage, requirements should be met at a minimal level. To pass the final stage they should be met at a substantial level.
Osborn says, “The preparation for WASC visit was thorough, AAU answered all requests and needs of the team, led by the strong efforts of AAU’s accreditation liaison officer, which is strong evidence of AAU’s commitment to achieving accreditation.”
Quiet a few changes have already taken place in the school’s administration. Two new deans have been appointed for the schools of Business and International Relations. AAU also received a new IT specialist, a vice president of external relations, and a new executive vice president. Introduction of further full-time positions in governance is expected in the future. The candidacy report recommends recruiting new qualified faculty, and expanding positions in Board of Governors.
As for further recommendations, the WASC committee advices increasing the number of graduates, increasing the effectiveness of student’s grievances procedures, and expanding extra-curricular activities. WASC also advices for the new building to include an integrated student services center and better facilities.
According to provost Milada Polisenska, “The process is going very well. Next year in fall there will be an in-depth WASC [visit to]AAU. We will be well prepared for it.”
AAU students and faculty can keep track of the accreditation process on the AAUNET system using their AAU email.