Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Kizmet, Nov 20, 2015.
fallout from the whole Corinthian thing?
Accreditation, first and foremost, provides access to Title IV funds. If you take government funds out of the equation then the incentive for a school to be accredited is drastically reduced.
Were it not for the (fairly recent) state level changes that require accreditation to maintain state approval, a school not intending to accept Title IV, GI Bill or Government/Military TA could have really just sidestepped the issue altogether.
I think that people erroneously attributed characteristics to accreditation beyond its intended purpose and now they are disappointed that accreditation isn't the silver bullet they thought it was. As many have noted here, some lines have blurred between accreditors in prior years.
Frankly, I think the USDOE needs to either get out of the accreditation business all together (leave it to the states) or embrace it full force (take on more responsibility). Right now, USDOE sits ineffective lay in the middle with most of the responsibility sourced out to private entities who get to essentially write checks on behalf of the government.
Oh, USDOE is going to post probation notices for the public? The accreditors routinely publish those notices on their website. The people on this board have never had a hard time finding them.
Change is necessary. But the government doesn't so "change" very well. So, yeah, I'm sure we are going to see some purely knee jerk reactions to Corinthian that will result in some pithy policy changes that,conce enacted, will add to the financial burden of accreditation and ultimately not offer any additional protection for students, schools or taxpayers. What we can be sure of is that some small group will benefit from those changes. Maybe it will be USDOE officials who decide to become consultants. Maybe it will be the accreditors themselves. But nothing changes in the government unless someone's pockets are being lined.
Here's another article on the same subject. This one features the Secretary of Education.
Arne Duncan's Plan To Fix College Accreditation
I'm not so sure removing Title IV participation would reduce the incentive to become accredited. Accreditation also confers legitimacy to a school and the degrees it awards. There are many accredited schools that do not participate in federal financial aid.
Even non-U.S. schools, where there's no financial aid aspect, get asked whether they're accredited. This isn't just American; it's something that has permeated the global consciousness.
Well, only because the public needed some easy "legitimacy indicator" to latch onto. And even then, it's an imperfect usage. As we have discussed ad nauseum, DEAC and ACICS accreditation is wholly legal. They are recognized by the USDOE in the same manner as the regional accreditors. And yet, accreditation by those bodies does not necessarily confer legitimacy.
So, where does the legitimacy come from? If USDOE revoked the recognition of all accreditors tomorrow, would RA still have die-hard fans? Clearly the legitimacy they confer doesn't come from their government mandate otherwise the other accreditors would enjoy the exact same authority.
The legitimacy that comes from accreditation is self-imposed and even then is not absolute. Look at how reviled University of Phoenix is by so many emplouers. Look at how the media casually calls it a "diploma mill." Objectively they are "legitimate" but when the public perception is that you are not, in fact "legitimate," then the utility of the degrees from that institution is going to suffer regardless of what accreditation the institution holds.
The fact that our government essentially outsourced legitimizing universities to a handful of private entities is really not something we should be proud of.
I suppose we could quibble over the word "many" here. Suffice to say, in the broad landscape of higher Ed, many more schools participate in Title IV than do not. I don't mean to say that the only reason a school gets accredited is for Title IV but rather it is a pretty big consideration that may be rethought in a large number of situations.
If there is no Title IV then the Neuhaus School of Labor Relations needs to decide whether it will even bother offering degrees and if we can compete effectively. Maybe it means that we only offer associate degrees and we make them incredibly affordable. But give me access to Title IV funds and I'm likely to jack up the price and offer many more offerings to reach the broadest possible audience.
My usual quibble: Accreditation never confers legitimacy, it only serves as independent validation of it. That's important, but it's not the same thing.
The USDoE recognition of accreditors is a small part. The largest reason accreditation matters is because of the thousands of accredited schools who say it does.
So, accreditation is legitimate because the institutions accredited by those accreditors say accreditation is legitimate.
Sounds a bit circular to me.
My point is not that accreditation is bad. It is that the amount of stock we place in accreditation is largely based upon our opinions of the institutions themselves. We are reacting to the institutional opinion of accreditation rather than, as a society, establishing a standard of "legitimacy" that may work for us in other ways.
Of COURSE it's "circular." The schools banded together to set standards, which they in turn use to admit (accredit) other schools. This has been true for centuries (see the guild system). That's where the expertise comes from to set the standards.
It's self-regulation, Rich, and it generally doesn't work. Ask all of the people who lost money with Madoff despite FINRA (the financial industry's "self-regulatory" body) and every financial professional who, at the height of his deception, swore the guy was totally legit. After all, no one is qualified to regulate the financial industry but the financial industry itself.
It's interesting that you bring guilds up as part of this discussion. Have you noticed that the guilds, such as they existed at their height, don't exist today? Part of the problem is because they stifled innovation and quality.
Guilds don't exist because control of production shifted from artisans to owners.
Quality standards in professions are almost universally determined and enforced by those professions. In some cases, governments rely on them for licensure.
When you bring up the finance industry, you're talking about a different kind of oversight...the members are for-profit and are thus inclined to make decisions that increase owners' wealth instead of what's best for society and the common good. That's why we have government enforcement in quite a few similar areas. We even have some in some aspects of higher education.
Another article on changes in accreditation
More data to be public on accreditation | mndaily.com - The Minnesota Daily
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