Virginia International University has received a notice from our accrediting body, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS), requesting that we discontinue our English as a Second Language Program, due to declining retention rates over the last few years. Because of this, we will not be admitting any new students at this time. Students already registered in the program can continue until completion. This means that the program will remain open and in operation until the final students complete their study.
The action is not a reflection on the quality of education provided here at VIU. Our ESL Program has high standards of performance which serves our students well when they complete it. This decision is strictly due to below standard retention rates per how our ESL Program was originally set up in our catalog. Students admitted are expected to finish the entire program and pass their final exam to be counted as completers per how we are measured. Unfortunately, many students took a few courses and returned to their countries or transferred to other university programs which affected the overall retention rate. We want to be clear that this is the only program impacted at this time.
We will be appealing the decision made by the accrediting council, and working hard to respond with additional information that will help our Accrediting Body better understand the completion rate calculation. We feel that our response is very strong and have high hopes that ACICS will consider our appeal for ESL Program continuation. To be clear, we are confident that we have and will continue to meet our standards of accreditation. At this time, VIU must comply with our accrediting body’s request until they have a chance to review our response per their request for more information. We certainly hope to have a favorable outcome from the appeal no later than May 2017.