UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20202
In the Matter of Docket No. 97-80-EA
University of Health Sciences, Emergency Action
Show Cause Proceeding
Appearances: William A. Bradford, Jr., Esq., and Elizabeth B. Heffernan, Esq., Hogan &
Hartson, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Karola Marcinkowskiego University of
Paul G. Freeborne, Esq. and Russell B. Wolff, Esq., Office of the General
Counsel, United States Department of Education, Washington, D.C., for Student
Financial Assistance Programs.
Before: Judge Richard I. Slippen
On May 28, 1997, the Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs (SFAP) of the U.S. Department of Education (Department) imposed an emergency action against the Karola Marcinkowskiego University of Health SciencesSee footnote 11 (the University), of Poznan, Poland, in accordance with 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(1)(G) and 34 C.F.R. §§ 600.41 and 668.83. On June 12, 1997, the University requested an opportunity to show cause why the emergency action was unwarranted.See footnote 22 Pursuant to the Delegation of Authority from the Secretary to conduct proceedings and issue final decisions in circumstances where educational institutions request an opportunity to show cause why an emergency action is unwarranted, I conducted a hearing on July 29, 1997.
According to the notice in this case, the emergency action was based upon the
University's failure to satisfy the definition of an institution of higher education, as set forth in
20 U.S.C. §§ 1088(a)(2)(B) and 1141(a), and 34 C.F.R. § 600.56. This emergency action is
based on the determination of the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and
Accreditation (NCFMEA), a panel of experts appointed by the Secretary to determine whether a
foreign country has standards of accreditation that are comparable to standards applied to U.S.
medical schools. 20 U.S.C. § 1088(a)(2)(B). For a foreign medical school to qualify as an
institution eligible to participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under
Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (Title IV), 20 U.S.C. § 1070 et seq.,
and 42 U.S.C. 2751 et seq., it must have standards of accreditation that are comparable to those
applied to U.S. medical schools. 20 U.S.C. § 1088(a)(2)(B). If its standards of accreditation are
determined not to be comparable, the institution must be accredited by a nationally recognized
accrediting agency or association. Alternatively, if not so accredited, the institution may be
granted preaccreditation status by such an agency or association that has been recognized by the
Secretary for the granting of preaccreditation, and the Secretary has determined that there is
satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the accreditation standards of such an agency
or association within a reasonable time. 20 U.S.C. §§ 1088(a)(2)(B) and 1141(a)(5).
The facts are undisputed here. On March 3, 1997, the NCFMEA determined that the country of Poland did not have standards of accreditation comparable to U.S. medical schools, as required by 20 U.S.C. § 1088(a)(2)(B). (Respondent's Exhibit 3 at p. 5-6). Further, the University presented no evidence that it was accredited or had been accorded pre-accreditation status by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. 20 U.S.C. § 1141(a)(5). Although the University argues that NCFMEA's review process is flawed, it is not within my authority to consider challenges to the action of the accrediting agency.See footnote 33 34 C.F.R. § 600.41(e)(1) (1996). If the basis for the loss of eligibility is the loss of accreditation or preaccreditation, the sole issue before me is whether the institution, location, or program has the requisite accreditation or preaccreditation. Id. As the hearing officer who is to decide whether the emergency action is warranted, I have no authority to consider challenges to the action of the accrediting agency. Id.
Therefore, since it has been determined that Poland does not have standards of accreditation
comparable to U.S. medical schools and the University is not accredited by a nationally
recognized accrediting agency, I find that the definition of an eligible institution of higher
education has not been met.
If the Secretary believes that an educational program offered by an institution that was
previously designated as an eligible institution does not satisfy relevant statutory or regulatory
requirements that define that educational program, the Secretary may initiate an emergency
action. 34 C.F.R. § 600.41(b). Pursuant to 34 C.F.R. § 668.83(c), an emergency action should
be upheld if: 1) there is reliable information that the institution violated any provision of the
HEA; 2) immediate action is necessary to prevent misuse of Federal funds, and 3) the likelihood
of financial loss from the misuse of funds outweighs the importance of adherence to the
procedures for limitation, suspension, and termination actions.
First, it is undisputed that the University has failed to demonstrate that it meets the statutory
definition of an eligible institution. Second, due to its failure to meet the statutory definition of
an eligible institution, allowing the University to continue to participate in the Title IV, HEA
programs would constitute a misuse of federal funds and immediate action is necessary to
prevent such further misuse of funds. Third, because all Title IV aid disbursed by an ineligible
institution is invalid and done in error, the likelihood of loss does outweigh the importance of
awaiting completion of the procedures for termination of eligibility.See footnote 44 Accordingly, I find that
the three criteria for imposing the emergency action are satisfied.
Having found that the three-pronged test for imposition of an emergency action has been
met, I affirm the emergency action.
Judge Richard I. Slippen
Dated: August 6, 1997
A copy of the attached document was sent to the following:
William A. Bradford, Jr., Esq.
Elizabeth B. Heffernan, Esq.
Hogan & Hartson, L.L.P.
555 Thirteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-1109
Paul G. Freeborne, Esq.
Russell B. Wolff, Esq.
Office of the General Counsel
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-2110