As this exciting, tumultuous 2016 year comes to a close, the ACCET staff and Commission join me in wishing you and your institutions a most happy holiday season and continued success in 2017. ACCET emerges from 2016 with a solid and loyal membership base coupled with a dedicated staff and a legion of talented volunteers.
Those of you who were able to join us in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico for the ACCET Annual Conference especially appreciate what a smashing success the event was augmented by a sensational setting. Sincere thanks to conference coordinator Sandy Lockwood who was ably assisted by Darlene Foret and a staff conference committee led by Linsay Oakden. The evaluations of all aspects of the conference program were off the charts and we are already planning the 2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas in early November.
As you might imagine, Washington, DC is still gasping for air as the result of the November elections. The macro implications for our country are certainly undefined at this time, but on a micro level as it relates to ACCET and its membership, there are some emerging signs that we must closely monitor. Over one-third of our membership is related to Intensive English Programs and there is concern that if a general anti-globalism stance emerges combined with previously stated critical attitudes expressed towards certain countries and religions that the impact on IEP enrollment could be substantial. In 2015-16 alone, IEPs in the United States have already seen a 14.5% decrease from the previous year according to statistics recently published by “Open Doors.” We have learned from our network of international language accreditors that there are many quality options for intensive English instruction in a number of attractive countries who will be vying for students who do not feel comfortable or welcome in the United States. Accordingly, closures of branch and main IEP campuses could expand during 2017 and there is reason for concern.
On the other hand, the election results may have a positive effect for our career college membership with the possibility of reduced overall regulations and the possible demise of existing onerous programs like Gainful Employment and the new loan repayment rules. For accreditors, the NACIQI board membership will be re-vamped and it is hoped that the re-recognition process will be de-politicized and restored to the level playing field that was a previous hallmark. It is important, however, to appreciate that the possible loosening of federal regulations, which will be welcomed, will not negate the responsibility of ACCET and its members to see that our standards are met and maintained, so that our institutions remain strong and viable in any environment.
In addition to the Annual Conference, we have also just completed, in early December, a week of deliberations by the ACCET Commission here in Washington, DC where numerous issues pertaining to the future of our agency were explored. As a non-governmental agency that depends on its membership entirely for its financial support, ACCET has always been and always will be sensitive to its role as a conscientious steward of resources. We strive not to increase fees annually and, in fact, have not changed the sustaining fees in eight years while leaving the structure for other fees without adjustment for three years. In these three years, however, we have seen dramatically escalating travel costs and a growth of over 300 campus locations that need to be served daily by ACCET staff, as well as coverage being provided by staff with peer volunteers on team visits. In consideration of these variables and others, the Executive Committee of the ACCET Commission recently approved across the board fee upgrades effective January 1, 2017. These changes are moderate in range with the sustaining fees having been raised at a 1% per year rate since the last adjustment in 2008. The application processing and team visit fees reflect changes of less than 3% per year since the last adjustment. In comparison to our brother national accreditors, ACCET remains in the lower one-half of comparable fees charged to members. Our staffing pattern remains the most lean when compared to the number of locations served. The consistent feedback we receive from our members speaks to the availability, professionalism and friendliness of ACCET staff who consistently provide timely and effective service. These adjustment in fees will contribute to maintaining this commitment and keep the overall operation of our organization in good stead. I appreciate your understanding and thank you for your continued support.