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Western Oklahoma State College officials question allegations about 10-day courses

by Silas Allen Published: November 20, 2012

— Western Oklahoma State College officials say they'll use an upcoming visit from the college's accrediting board as a chance to redeem the school's name.

But officials with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the college's accrediting board, said recent reports about so-called quick courses offered at the college raise questions about the courses' place in a college curriculum.

Officials from the commission announced Friday they planned to visit the college early next year in response to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that claimed the 10-day accelerated online courses offer dubious credit for minimal time and effort.

According to the report, major college athletic programs use the courses as a way to keep athletes eligible to play.

According to the article, Western Oklahoma State College's online offerings are well-known among major college athletics programs nationwide as a good option when players find themselves in an academic bind.

The article raises questions about the quality of the courses and lack of academic oversight.

In a statement, commission spokesman John Hausaman said the report raised concerns about how the college markets the courses to athletes nationwide. Officials are also concerned that the college relies on the courses to raise money to close gaps in its funding.

The article says the college brought in about $2 million last year in revenue from the courses.

Before the visit, the college will be required to submit a report to the commission explaining how the courses are implemented and how they comply with the commission's regulations. After the visit, the commission will determine whether to continue monitoring the college or impose some type of sanction.

The commission isn't the only organization to express concern over the report. Walter Bumphus, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, said in a statement that the organization was reviewing the allegations against the school to determine what action to take.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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