The Division of Academic Affairs comprises two major units, one of which oversees degree-granting institutions (colleges and universities) and the other oversees diploma- and certificate-granting institutions (what we call private business and vocational schools, or PBVS).
AA supports the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) through the following activities:
- Develops and implements academic policies for state coordination of postsecondary education.
- Addresses emerging needs in higher education. Recent examples include coordination of education and human capital development with IDOT and other business and transportation related bodies; coordination of response to SB 1900, the Access to Research Articles Act, that provides that each public university shall develop an open access to research articles policy; and coordination of Illinois’ potential participation in a national movement to streamline approval of distance education through a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.
- Seeks to improve the educational pipeline from preschool through college in collaboration with multi-agency initiatives such as the Common Core State Standards and related Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC), P-20 Council, school leadership preparation, teacher education, college and career readiness, and dual credit. See P-20 Education Pipeline.
- Promotes improvements to policies and practices that will smooth transition from military service to civilian life via postsecondary education by working toward greater awarding of appropriate postsecondary credits for military training and service; dissemination of easily accessed, clear information about the awarding of credits; streamlining service-school-licensure pathways; and other initiatives moving forward in Illinois and in the Midwest region.
- Assists in the preparation and dissemination of the annual reports on the status of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education.This includes data on African-Americans, Hispanics, females, and students with disabilities. See Underrepresented Groups Report.
Degree-Granting Colleges and Universities Unit
- Reviews and analyzes proposals from institutions of higher education who are seeking the statutorily-required approval by IBHE for operating and degree-granting authority. Recommends programs that meet requirements of the State for Board approval. See IBHE Approval & Review.
- Certifies the academic information that feeds the IBHE searchable databases that provide information about academic programs in Illinois, the institutions of higher education that provide academic programs, and the students being served. (Unfortunately, IBHE currently only has such functionality on the degree side. Plans are underway to develop information about non-degree programs and schools as well.) See Academic Degree Programs, Colleges & Universities, Degree Program Inventory, or Enrollments & Degrees.
- Serves on the State Educator Licensure and Preparation Board.
- Reviews and analyzes proposals from postsecondary schools who are seeking the statutorily-required approval by IBHE for authority to operating and to offer specific diploma and certificate programs. Approvals are granted by staff action.
- Plans for the day when IBHE has the capacity to display information in a searchable database with information about non-degree programs in Illinois, the postsecondary institutions that provide employment-related educational programs, and the students being served.
- Coordinates with other state and federal entities such as the US Department of Education and local Workforce Investment Act (WIA) boards to ensure that grants, student aid, and other resources only flow to properly authorized schools.