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May 18, 2024

Higher Learning Commission – The new hammer against Fraud and Abuse in Higher Education

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 27, 2017

United States (ECWd) –

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is set to meet with the College of DuPage Board of Trustees next month in an executive session.  We suspect that visit may be tied to the new policy on Fraud and Abuse adopted on an expedited basis by the HLC this past February, in addition to discussing the accreditation status for the college.

If the HLC identifies Fraud and Abuse at COD or any other institution they are tied to, they must report it to the US Dept of Education.

The Commission shall report suspected incidents of fraud and abuse to the U.S. Department of Education as outlined in its policy on the Relation with the U.S. Government.

This new policy applies to every college that utilizes the HLC accreditation process.  Prior to this policy, there was no reason for these institutions to be overly concerned as any Fraud and Abuse identified was handled internally or in the criminal courts and had no impact on their accreditation. Now, with this policy, confirmation of Fraud and Abuse carries potential accreditation concerns.

The adopted policy provides some context around fraud and abuse and sends a clear message that fraud and abuse is unacceptable and would constitute grounds for a finding that Core Component 2.A is not met.

In short, the new hammer on campus is We The People!  When you identify Fraud and Abuse, the reporting of it will trigger the HLC to act by their own policy.

The Commission will review such allegations through its complaint process or through other mechanisms provided for in Commission policy and practice.

An institution that has been determined through those processes to have engaged in fraud and abuse as outlined in this policy shall be considered to be in violation of Commission standards related to institutional integrity and may be found to be in violation of other Commission standards as well, and shall be subject to Commission sanctions or withdrawal of accreditation as outlined in those policies.

I think it’s a safe bet that the College of DuPage was the poster child for this action stemming from the events exposed during the Breuder era, although clearly not the only institution of higher learning in this country that had serious problems with Fraud and Abuse.

The downside to this policy is the impact it may have on an institution that is pro-active and dealing with Fraud and Abuse as we are seeing with the current Board of Trustees at COD.  It appears, regardless of the educational institution’s actions, the HLC is going to investigate and report accordingly. Where does that leave an institution that is continuing to identify Fraud and Abuse and dealing with it properly?

May we suggest COD get the soccer field ready as this ball is going to get kicked around quite a bit!

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