Two listeners have the same question for our Foreign Student Series on American higher education. The listeners are Prashant Devidas in Bangalore, India, and Zegeye Mulu in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They want to know the number of universities in the United States.
It seems like universities are generally counted together with colleges. So here is the answer from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. It says there are two thousand six hundred eighteen accredited four-year colleges and universities. Most operate privately or as part of state governments.
Now we have a question of our own. Just what exactly does it mean if a school is accredited?
Accreditation is a process designed to guarantee that the education provided by a school meets accepted levels of quality. In the United States, this process involves both government agencies and private groups called accrediting agencies.
The United States Department of Education does not accredit schools. But the law requires the secretary of education to publish a list of accrediting agencies recognized as dependable.
Accrediting agencies develop educational goals. Then they examine schools to make sure those goals are met.
The first step in the process is for a college or university to request accreditation. Then the school does a study of itself to measure its performance against the requirements.
The accrediting agency sends a team of experts to decide if the school meets the standards. The agency will observe an accredited college or university every few years.
Schools must be accredited for students to receive government financial aid. Accreditation also makes it easier for students to move credits from one school to another. Going to an accredited school can also make it easier for students to get a good job.
There is a group called the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It has a Web site where students can learn if a school or program is accredited by a recognized United States organization. The address is chea.org. Again, c-h-e-a dot org.
This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our Foreign Student Series is online at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Gwen Outen.