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Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn., is one of 12 community colleges in the state that would have been consolidated into a single institution.

Accrediting agency rejects Connecticut community college merger

Connecticut said it needed to consolidate 12 community colleges into one entity to maintain the financial viability of all campuses.

The accrediting agency for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) has turned down the system’s proposal to consolidate the state’s 12 community colleges — a decision school leaders say will be devastating.

The Hartford Courant reports that the New England Association of Schools & Colleges is not convinced that the the plan is “realistic.”

"Because of the magnitude of the proposed changes, the proposed timeline, and the limited investment in supporting the changes, the commission is concerned that the potential for a disorderly environment for students is too high for it to approve the proposed Community College of Connecticut as a candidate for accreditation based on this proposal,” said David Angel, chairman of the association.

Angel says the commission has decided that the Community College of Connecticut would be “a new institution,” and that CSCU would need to submit an application for a new institution, rather than as it did as an institution looking to make a “substantive change.”

Mark Ojakian, president of the CSCU system, and Matt Fleury, chairman of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, issued a statement that the decision “is devastating to our ability to hold the line on tuition and keep all campuses open.”

“While we expected further guidance, we did not expect NEASC to redirect us to consider ‘candidacy for accreditation,’ a new process that will take another five years,” the leaders said. “The problems that our institutions and students face cannot wait five years. In five years, our institutions will be financially insolvent.”

In the coming days, Fleury and Ojakian said, “we will review all of our options including legislative and accrediting options, a review of tuition rates, and the closing of one or more of our campuses.”

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