(Note: This article has been updated to correct and clarify several key points about the ability of accrediting agencies to accredit institutions outside their regions, and about the WASC Senior College and University Commission's policies on that topic.)
The season of accreditation swapping appears to be upon us.
Days after it became evident that Florida's public universities are considering leaving the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges in response to a change in state law, the University of Arizona revealed that it was seeking accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission, which currently accredits the University of Arizona Global Campus, the online university that Arizona purchased and absorbed two years ago.
"Through its affiliation with UAGC (accredited by WSCUC), UArizona has experienced firsthand WSCUC's collaborative and thorough approach to accreditation and working with its accredited institutions to address concerns and pursue innovative opportunities," the university said in the FAQ.
It noted that the change was made possible by a 2019 shift in U.S. Education Department policy that allowed accreditors to expand their scopes beyond their regions without needing federal approval to do so. In 2020, the Western accreditor was the first such agency to announce that it would consider doing so, for institutions that were "related" to colleges and universities it already accredits. It has since further widened its scope to the full nation.
Arizona's FAQ said that the U.S. Education Department "approved UArizona’s request to change its primary accrediting agency from HLC to WSCUC" on Nov. 14.