The Western Association of Schools and Colleges will evaluate UCSB’s academic rigor today through Thursday as part of a three-step process to maintain the university’s accredited status.
The assessment occurs at least once every 10 years and is designed to improve educational quality nationwide. UCSB is the last UC campus to go through the reaccreditation process and is currently on the second stage — known as the Capacity and Preparatory Review — to ensure the university’s mission is reinforced with sufficient resources, structures and processes.
According to WASC Vice President Richard Osborn, the audit addresses factors including graduation and retention rates.
“UCSB is the last UC campus to go through this process adopted over 10 years ago,” Osborn said. “Our model is very student-centered in looking at the effectiveness of the institution to provide students with an excellent education.”
Osborn said the review team could help the university administration adapt to its growing financial constraints.
“The visit comes at a time when public universities are under financial stress due to reduced state expenditures,” Osborn said. “While not serving as a governing team, they hope to find areas to validate and point to possible areas of attention as UCSB adjusts its budget and programs for the future, always keeping the student at the center of the work.”
According to third-year chemistry major Nick Johnson, the accreditation could help prevent cuts into integral programs such as Campus Learning Assistance Services.
“Sometimes, I honestly do feel like I learn more from the book until I go into office hours,” Johnson said. “There is so much material in lecture — I can’t get it all down. I think if programs like CLAS, office hours or TAs were cut, grades and educational effectiveness would definitely go down.”
Associate Accreditation Liaison Officer Margaret Weeks said the university must still meet several criteria for accreditation.
“In general, WASC expects universities to meet four Standards of Accreditation,” Weeks said. “Within each Standard, there are Criteria for Review that the review team uses to determine whether we meet the Standards.”
The peer review team will return in 18 to 24 months during the third and final Educational Effectiveness Review stage to evaluate the campus’ educational effectiveness measures.
Osborn said this step focuses primarily on the measures in proportion to its educational capacity.
The group will deliver a report to the WASC Commission of Senior Colleges and Universities following the assessment for them to either confirm or deny UCSB’s accreditation.
The WASC is hosting open meetings with members of the UCSB community on Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 2:15 to 3:00 p.m. The undergraduate meeting will occur in the Flying A Room at the University Center.