Uncertain Times For Higher Education Accreditation

Career College Central summary:

  • The reauthorisation of the Higher Education Act could include reforms to the American accreditation system, which is currently based on self-evaluation and peer review and comprises a confusing network of regionally based accrediting organisations as well as national and programmatic accreditors. A major concern among accrediting agencies is that the federal government might wrest control. Also on the horizon is a College Ratings System being designed and implemented by the US Department of Education.
  • The legislative lay of the land was much discussed at the annual conference of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA, held from 27-29 January in Washington DC. CHEA – which describes itself as a national voice for quality assurance – represents around 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and 60 accrediting organisations. The conference was addressed by leaders of key committees in the US Senate and House of Representatives, the acting under secretary of education and the chair of the Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
  • Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa and chair of the influential Senate committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions – HELP – said its top priorities this year would be advancing college affordability and reauthorising the Higher Education Act. The act was first passed in 1965, aimed at strengthening the educational resources of colleges and universities and providing financial assistance for students. It was, Harkin told the conference, a “giant leap” for the federal government, which until then had only been peripherally involved in higher education, which is a state responsibility.

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