College Accreditors Under Pressure To Crack Down

Career College Central summary:

  • When City College of San Francisco was given a year to rein in a massive debt, fix deteriorating facilities, and bring its academic courses up to standards, it wasn’t state or federal regulators threatening to close the college if it didn’t respond. Nor was it parents, legislators, or impatient bankers. The shutdown warning came from an obscure organization probably unknown to most of the 80,000 students who attend the huge community college: the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, one of six regional accreditors that license two- and four-year institutions.
  • These regional accrediting agencies, and some of the 52 national accreditors that regulate religious, online, career, and other specific types of schools, have started to crack down on universities and colleges in the face of increasing pressure from Congress, the White House, and education reformers—and threats that the government could step in to take over their roles if they don’t.
  • For decades, according to critics, accrediting agencies—made up mostly of professors and administrators—rubber-stamped universities’ accreditations. Though largely out of sight of most Americans, accreditors control the approvals that keep colleges and universities pulling in students and eligible for taxpayer dollars; the U.S. Department of Education and states rely on them when determining whether institutions are eligible for billions in taxpayer-funded financial aid.
  • Yet for decades, according to their critics, the accrediting agencies—made up mostly of professors and administrators who judge the work of other professors and administrators—rubber-stamped universities’ accreditations after reviewing their academics, student services, and finances every few years.
  • As a result, “many accredited public and nonprofit colleges and universities across the country fail even basic tests of quality, yet remain accredited,” said a September report by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank. Accreditors have failed to protect taxpayers, who invest billions in universities and colleges, and threaten America’s global competitiveness in higher education, the AEI report said.

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