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HLC Open Pathway

The Open Pathway

The University of Oklahoma follows the Open Pathway, one of two options an institution has for maintaining accreditation with HLC. The Open Pathway's 10-year cycle focuses on quality assurance and institutional improvement. In the final year of the cycle, the institution undergoes a comprehensive evaluation to ensure that it is meeting the Criteria for Accreditation, pursuing institutional improvement, and complying with certain requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education.

HLC has many regular interactions with member institutions beyond the evaluations related to the Open Pathway. These occur through the annual Institutional Update, financial and non-financial indicator reviews, multi-location visits, and substantive change requests, as well as others.

Years 1-3

Preparation for the Year 4 Assurance Review takes place during this time. The institution begins work on updating the Assurance Argument and compiling evidence to support its argument.

Year 4

Submission of the Assurance Argument and Evidence File takes place during Year 4. A Peer Review committee conducts the Assurance Review and evaluates the Assurance Argument. The Assurance Review results in either acceptance of the Assurance Argument or recommended action(s). There is no site visit associated with the Year 4 Assurance Review.

Years 5-7

The Open Pathway requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken during its 10-year accreditation cycle as its Quality Initiative. The institution must propose a project to HLC for acceptance.

A Quality Initiative project may be designed to begin and be completed during this time, or an institution may continue a project that is already in progress or achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative. The Quality Initiative is intended to allow institutions to take risks, aim high, and learn from only partial success or even failure. The project can be focused on one campus or encompass the institution as a whole.

Years 7-9

Implementation of the approved Quality Initiative Project should be in process and/or complete, depending on the scope of the project. The institution must submit a report in Year 9 describing the progress, achievements, challenges, and/or continuing efforts of the Quality Initiative Project. A Peer Review of the Quality Initiative Report confirms or questions the institution's effort in untertaking the approved project.

During this time, the insititution may begin preparing the Assurance Argument for the Year 10 Comprehensive Evaluation.

Year 10

HLC conducts comprehensive evaluations of member institutions to confirm the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation and other HLC requirements, is pursuing institutional improvement, and complies with requirements sets by the U.S. Department of Education. Evaluations are conducted by teams of peer reviewers. The Comprehensive Evaluation includes a site visit by the peer review team and concludes the Open Pathway cycle. HLC determines whether to reaffirm an institution's accrediation at this time.