How much notice is typically given before a university program loses accreditation?

Re the story linked and quoted below a local member of the University of Maryland system (the University of Maryland of the Eastern Shore UMES) started a Physician’s Assistant (PA) programin 2001 and very recently lost accreditation for the program, apparently due to inadequate full time staffing of P.A. instructor positions by the college. Now the college is scrambling trying to save the program and the students are (in other actions) threatening to sue the college for making them transfer and/or having wasted time and money on a failed program that cannot grant them a degree.

I understand the problem to some extent as we are a tertiary demographic and medical personnel oriented recruiting is difficult even for the larger hospitals serving the area. For a small college program it would be doubly difficult to get instructors, or get them at a salary that makes sense.

I am curious how much warning is usually given in these loss of accreditation scenarios. Is there lots of warning prior or does the hammer fall suddenly? The college seems to be acting like it was kinda/sorta a big surprise which they will be able to maybe solve with talks for more time but at this point accreditation is terminated and the PA students have been left hanging.

How do these things usually go down? Lots of notice or not?

UMES mobilizes to save physician assistant program

The only experience I have is when my former college was put on probation.

First, the accrediting body cites shortcomings in the program.

A year later, they come back to see if you’ve made progress. Unless you’ve actually gotten worse, they’ll probably give you another year.

After that, if you haven’t fixed the problem, they’ll put you on probation for at least a year. Probation is a pretty drastic step, because it warns off new applicants and scares the hell out of the big grant-givers.

The article says the program was repositioned to offer a Master’s degree in 2013, then put on probation in 2014 for, among other things, “Failure to meet expectations in staffing and reporting.” Sounds like the school knew it was in trouble as soon as they tried to upgrade the program.

It’s sort of like when a terminal fuckup finally gets fired for incompetence. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but if it is, it’s probably because they were so damn incompetent.

Accreditation bodies (the regional accreditors for schools themselves as well as the professional bodies that accredit medical/legal/engineering/etc programs) don’t do this on a whim. As above there’s a warning, a detailed inventory of what needs to be fixed, a probation, and finally, disaccreditation. This process can (and frequently does) take years, mostly because the accreditation body really wants the school to fix their problems if they can.

In the case of City College of San Francisco, it took several years (the whole college was facing dis-accreditation) and it looks like they got a second chance to turn it around, which hasn’t finished playing out yet (as far as I can tell, I haven’t been following extremely closely).

But is the problem well publicized?
Would the students enrolled at the college know the future of their college is in danger?
Or is it more like corporate buyouts, where the employees do not know that their jobs are in danger?

This is what I’m wondering. I can easily see a college trying to keep accreditation problems hidden, so as not to scare off potential applicants. How easy or hard is it to find out if a college’s accreditation is in danger?

I aware of the City College of San Francisco problem from news radio, though I don’t have any connection. I don’t think the accreditation report is secret, but I doubt that the college is going to issue a press release. So it might depend on how good the local news organizations are. The place in the OP is run by the state, so I suspect they have to be more open than a private college in trouble.