Questions & Answers
Q: Is Southern Vermont College an accredited institution?
A: Absolutely. The College and its various programs are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). In addition, the College’s nursing programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), and its radiology program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). The College’s nursing programs are also approved by the Vermont State Board of Nursing – which is the approval that permits our students to sit for the national nursing licensing exam.
Q: There have been media reports the nursing program is not accredited. Is this true?
A: No, it is not true. Our nursing programs are both approved by the Vermont State Board of Nursing and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). Seeking accreditation from NLNAC is voluntary; it is not required to have NLNAC accreditation to educate nurses. Graduates can sit for the national licensing exam precisely because we are approved by the Vermont State Board of Nursing.
Q: Is there a threat of not being accredited?
A: Continuing approval must be sought from the Vermont State Board of Nursing. We are approved through 2016. We are also pleased to report the Vermont State Board of Nursing also recently approved our decision to launch a new program – a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This new program is not affected by the NLNAC accrediting process.
SVC’s voluntary continuing accreditation from the NLNAC is in dispute. On April 1, 2013, we learned that NLNAC had voted to deny continuing accreditation for our nursing programs. While disappointed, we had anticipated this action and the College intends to pursue its rights, including the right to appeal and litigate in a court of law. While that appeal is pending, the College’s NLNAC accreditation will remain in full force and effect.
Q: What’s at issue?
A: Over the past 6 months, NLNAC conducted a review of our nursing programs. Based on their site visit and the accompanying report, NLNAC has questioned whether the College has met their accrediting standards. However, the College believes that the site visit, the site visit report and the Peer Review panel were deeply flawed because the NLNAC did not follow its own rules and procedures, violated common law due process, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. It was impossible for a valid outcome to be reached since the information leading to all decisions was missing or flawed.
Q: How does this affect current, future and past nursing students?
A: First, because the College is approved by the Vermont State Board of Nursing, all of our graduates are eligible to sit for the national nursing licensing examination. That is the key examination that leads to employment.
Second, NLNAC’s decision does not affect any of our graduates, all of whom graduated from our fully accredited program.
Third, our program remains fully accredited during the appeal process. So with respect to current students, there are three outcomes, all of which are positive: (1) current students graduating in May 2013 will receive their degree from an accredited nursing program; (2) current students set to graduate from the ADN program in May, 2014, can transfer to our Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (for which accreditation is now being sought and which, if granted, will be retroactive); or (3) we will place them in another program, which will move them from an SVC ADN degree to an accredited BSN completer program, resulting in an accredited nursing degree.
All SVC graduates will be in a position to receive a degree from an accredited program.
One more important point: Seeking accreditation from NLNAC is voluntary; it is not required to have NLNAC accreditation to operate a program or to sit for the national licensing examination. SVC still plans to pursue appeal and continue its voluntary accreditation.
Q: Is graduating from an accredited institution important for getting a job or being accepted into graduate school and can SVC assure students that accreditation will be available to them?
A: Accreditation requirements of health care agencies for employment and for admission to graduate school differ greatly. Some employment opportunities require a degree from an accredited program, and the current employment trend is to require a Bachelor’s degree (not an Associate’s degree).
All current SVC nursing students will graduate from an accredited program (whether through SVC or another institution with whom we partner) and be eligible to sit for the national licensing exam. Importantly, students entering in Fall 2013 will be enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, the degree most promising for future employment opportunities and for which new accreditation is underway. The BSN program will not be affected by our disagreement with the NLNAC.