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Third-party Arrangement

HLC policies outline when institutions need to notify HLC regarding third-party arrangements and when prior approval is needed for these arrangements (see policy INST.F.20.040). HLC differentiates the various types of third-party arrangements as follows:

Credit Transfer

Based on its transfer policy, an institution independently determines whether credits already earned by a student from another institution are acceptable in transfer. These determinations may be based on credit, course and curriculum equivalencies, often without reference to partial fulfillment of a specific credential.

Each institution teaches its own curriculum and courses; there is no outsourcing involved.

An institution may decide whether to accept credits from other institutions regardless of their accredited status, HLC requires affiliated institutions clearly communicate their transfer policies to the public.

Articulation Agreements

Articulation agreements are arrangements between institutions that agree in advance, via Memorandum of Understanding or other agreement, to accept each other’s credits in transfer, often in partial fulfillment of one or more specific credentials. In these cases, students may be simultaneously enrolled in multiple institutions.

Each institution teaches its own curriculum and courses; there is no outsourcing involved.

Institutions may decide whether to enter into articulation arrangements with other institutions regardless of the other institution’s accredited status. However, HLC-affiliated institutions should make the public aware of all such arrangements (e.g. by listing such arrangements on the website, providing more details in program catalogs and ensuring clarity in the transcript produced as a result of such arrangements.)

Contractual Arrangement

An institution may wish to outsource some portion of its educational programs (degrees or certificates offered for academic credit) to one or more identified partners that are neither accredited by HLC nor any agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting institutions. Such an arrangement is a contractual arrangement. Partners may teach some portion of the institution’s curriculum or may perform other roles most often expected of the institution’s faculty, including:

  • Oversight of the curriculum.
  • Assurance of consistency in the level and quality of instruction and in expectations of student performance.
  • The establishment of the academic qualifications for instructional personnel.

See the relevant substantive change application for more details on these roles.

With few exceptions involving the accreditation of international institutions by U.S. Department of Education recognized accreditors, international institutions fall in this category.

If all contractual partners are accredited either by HLC or by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting institutions, the arrangement is considered a consortial arrangement.

Consortial Arrangement

An HLC-accredited institution may wish to initiate an arrangement with another institution or group of institutions that will provide some portion of one or more educational programs (degrees or certificates offered for academic credit) offered by the HLC-accredited institution. The other institution or group of institutions may teach some portion of the initiating institution’s curriculum for academic credit, or collaborate with it to offer a single degree for which some portion of the curriculum is generated and owned by the initiating institution. Such an arrangement is a consortial arrangement only if the consortial partner(s) are accredited by HLC or by an agency also recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting institutions. Otherwise, it is a contractual arrangement.

Note that in cases where the accreditation status of the third party is determinative, namely contractual and consortial arrangements, the key is whether the third party is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education specifically to accredit degree-granting institutions.

 

Related Policy

FDCR.A.10.040
Publication of Transfer Policies

INST.F.20.040
Institutional Change Policy

Questions?

800.621.7440