While individual programs within the University often have their own external accrediting bodies and must meet those standards, Ohio University as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) a regional accrediting agency within the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). In July of 2002, Ohio University began participating in a relatively new accreditation program developed by the HLC. This program, the Academic Quality Improvement Program or AQIP, provides an alternative process for well-established institutions to maintain their accreditation.
As described by NCA, AQIP "infuses the principles and benefits of continuous improvement into the culture of colleges and universities by providing an alternative process through which an already-accredited institution can maintain its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. With AQIP, an institution demonstrates it meets accreditation standards and expectations through sequences of events that align with those ongoing activities that characterize organizations striving to improve their performance."
As a part of the AQIP program, institutions select action projects based on their own particular goals and values. In academic year 2002-2003, Ohio University chose four AQIP action projects that reflected the University's goals at that time. Three of these action projects have, as of February 2006, been completed, become an active part of the University culture, and have been discontinued. To the remaining action project, two new projects were added based upon input from the University community and the goals set forth in the University's strategic plan.
Annually, AQIP requires participating institutions to report their progress in achieving the goals set forth in their action projects. Peer reviewers, assigned by AQIP, review these annual updates and provide feedback.
After four years of participation in AQIP, institutions are required to submit a Systems Portfolio. In this document the institution describes the systems and processes it uses to achieve its goals and the outcomes in performance it accomplishes through them. Ohio University's systems portfolio was submitted in November of 2005 and AQIP completed its appraisal of the document in March of 2006. This appraisal is intended to provide the University with a report that can be used to create strategies and actions for achieving its goals.
Under AQIP, formal reaffirmation of accreditation takes place every seven years.