By: Abigail Calandra and Antoinette Goldberg
Despite rumors surrounding a loss of academic accreditation, the Journalism and Visual Arts programs at Anglo-American University still hold Czech accreditation for students graduating before the end of 2024.
Following recent updates to the AAU website, students on campus alleged that the university had lost its Czech accreditation and failed to inform students of the change. This resulted in feelings of panic and betrayal among students over visa status, the money spent during the nostrification process and the possible consequences of only graduating with an American diploma.
However, according to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Miroslav Svoboda, this isn’t the case. The Journalism and Visual Arts incoming class of 2025 was informed upon acceptance to AAU of their sole American accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, in turn preventing incoming students from being eligible for student visas. Alternatively, students were given the option to study a substitutive program, such as political science or humanities, so that they could have Czech student status.
“We decided to only inform the affected students,” Svoboda said. “We don’t deliver this information to students who aren’t close to graduation [or graduating prior to 2024] because we don’t think it’s relevant to them because it could create a false impression on their side.”
The accreditation of the Journalism and Visual Arts programs changed following a revision in the accreditation environment over the last couple of years, moving authority from the Ministry of Education to the National Accreditation Bureau. All schools of study at AAU needed to be evaluated prior to being approved by the new accreditation. The Bureau determined that they were not satisfied with the structure of the Journalism and Visual Arts programs, specifically the internship portion.
Following evaluations of the Journalism program by the committee and two board members, one that focuses on professionally oriented programs and one that reviews the relevant field of education, “We got positive recommendations from the evaluation committee, positive evaluation from the professional board members, but negative evaluation from the last one,” Svoboda said.
The Bureau requested more documentation from both schools of study, resulting in alterations in internal staffing and program structure. Svoboda says that it’s common to need to provide further information and make minor modifications; this was determined in late August and the University submitted additional documents.
Yet, the Journalism program requires a professionally oriented program, a new requirement in Czech accreditation within the past few years. The new requirements demand an internship of a little less than 500 hours for both the business and journalism students. Luckily, both International Relations and Visual Arts students’ internships remain at 150 hours.
The Visual Arts accreditation application began in 2020 when the school received a mixed review of the teaching approach. Schools can either focus on professionally oriented or academically oriented studies. AAU decided to place the visual arts program strictly in an academically oriented school and resubmitted for accreditation after making this change. Though the school’s resubmission was submitted in November of 2021, AAU has not received a decision yet. The chairman failed to arrange a meeting with the committee members for a year, resulting in AAU filing a formal complaint in August.
Svoboda called the committee in September and was informed that a meeting took place to discuss the vote, but the vote hasn’t ensued. Following the vote, the accreditation application will be evaluated by board members who will write their individual recommendations.
AAU received a letter from the National Accreditation Bureau stating that a meeting would occur to decide the accreditation of the visual arts program. However, the convening of the board was delayed for a month with hopes of being revisited on October 20. The University requested to attend the gathering but was promptly denied.
“Most likely because there were many new members including the chairman of the bureau. They didn’t want guests there,” Svoboda said.
The temporary confusion on campus reminds students of the history AAU has with transparency between administration and the student population. Svoboda admits that AAU did fail to properly inform students about nostrification issues in the past. It was originally marketed to many students as a simple internal exam, but it became a substantial issue between students, administration and the Ministry of Education.
The rejection of the visual arts and journalism accreditation would deny students the opportunity to go through the nostrification process. Nonetheless, Svoboda sounds hopeful that the accreditation process will allow students to receive the dual diploma, the inclination of many students applying from abroad.