1. Dennis Ruhl

    Dennis Ruhl member

    On rare occasions states have cooperated on legislation. I am neither a lawyer nor American but, I believe, the Uniform Commercial Code was passed by 49 states to govern commercial activity. (all except Louisiana)

    A simple over-riding set of regulations, with significant penalties could put a crimp in diploma mills.

    Suggested rules;

    Startup schools have 5 years to obtain accredition.
    Unaccredited schools only to offer Bachelors degrees or less.
    Require a refund of 100 % of tuition to students of schools operating illegally. Enforce director liability.
    And so on.

    I realize road paving is usually a bigger political issue than post secondary education, but if the federal and some state governments started the ball rolling, maybe national standards could be achieved.
  2. RJT

    RJT New Member

    All UnRA/DETC Shools Mills?


    Your ideas are great, but by requiring all schools to be RA w/in 5 years. Your implication is that all unacreddited schools are mills. this is just not so. There are some good schools that offer legit cirricula, but for wahtever reason choose to remain UnRA, but state liscened. Which according to the US DoE is perfectly legit.


  3. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    It would be nice, at least in my opinion. The bottom line though is that there are too few of us that consider this a problem.

    The best chance for action seems to be driven by the "shame factor". The states with minimal oversight laws are shamed into acting and pass laws cracking down on the degree mills. Degree mills pull up roots and run to other states with laxer laws. Then these other states become shamed into acting. The good thing is that as states with really lax laws becomes fewer the concentration of degree mills becomes greater in those states and so their shame factor goes up.
  4. Nice idea, but in practice 5 years would not be enough time. A new school cannot even apply for DETC accreditation (for example) until it has been in operation (actually teaching students) for two years. An acquaintance of mine explicitly confirmed this at the Denver conference a few months ago.
  5. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Or at least to achieve recognized candidacy somewhere. I'm assuming that the clock starts ticking when the first students are admitted.

    I would extend that to masters degrees. That's because:

    a) DL schools serve a continuing education market, and graduate degrees are often their emphasis. And...

    b) A masters program only requires 30 units, rather than 120. It won't need all the general-ed offerings that a bachelors programs must have.

    But here's a more radical suggestion:

    Why not have states regulate the granting of certain degree titles by law, namely the familiar BA, BS, MA, MS, and Ph.D., plus whatever common professional degrees like M.D. or M.B.A. that you want to include.

    In other words, only allow non-accredited schools to offer readily recognizable degree titles. If you can't call your degree a "doctorate", call it a "wizard's degree" or something. (A Wizard of Arts, Wiz.A.) Nobody is gonna confuse it with a recognized degree, so there won't be any consumer-fraud danger.

    The "Wizard" degree has no existing associations at all, since I just invented it. So the schools offering it are free to try to make it mean whatever they can. The degree will rise or fall, depending on the alternative schools' own credibility.

    My guess is that the non-standard degrees and the schools that grant them will quickly sink into being a joke, if they aren't allowed to pass as real universities. Bogus schools can only exist as academic parasites that live as free-riders on the credibility that other schools earn. Most of them would die if they had to survive on their own credibility.

    You could write in a provision that non-standard degrees can be upgraded to standard degrees if the issuing school achieves accreditation within X years after the degree was granted, making room for the legitimate new schools.

    Frankly, I like the grassroots scholarship that I find in the CA-approved world. I like the fact that pretty much anyone can start their own institute. But like all freedoms, it is very easily abused.

    These institutes would probably be better off if they deemphasized granting degrees entirely, and emphasized producing scholarship. If they want to grant their students something that's a little more credible than a Wizard's degree, it probably should be a graduate certificate along with an institutional affiliation and author-credits on papers.

    Perhaps the better of these institutes could start their own accrediting association. If they could convince the USDoEd/CHEA that they have real standards and oversight, they could be allowed by the states to offer standard degrees.

    So I would propose to continue letting people engage in education rather freely, subject to basic consumer protection stuff like the CA BPPVE enforces, but take more resolute action to make sure that the denizens of this sector can't confuse students and their employers by pretending to be something that they aren't.
  6. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Unfortunately, I think that you're right.

    Degreeinfo obviously can't do anything. What is needed is political pressure exerted on state legislatures to tighten legislation, and on state education departments to enforce the laws that already exist.

    Probably the academic community itself would have to be the source of that pressure. But faculty organizations are essentially labor unions, and are basically worthless. There are professional organizations for DL administrators, but the field nevertheless seems strangely ineffectual.

    I find the whole thing strange. Universities have sunk vast sums into DL (with strangely little to show). The trade publications are filled with news on DL "deals" that never seem to result in any programs that students would want to enroll in.

    So you would think that with all this investment, universities would have a vested interest in protecting and furthering the public perception of the medium. But for some reason, nobody seems to see it that way.

    My opinion is that distance education is approaching a cusp. If people wake up to the fact that a good percentage of on-line "universities" are little more than frauds, "distance education" will quickly become a joke in the public's mind. That process is already happening as we speak.

    I'm worried for the future of the medium. By the time the universities wake up to the danger, the damage will already be done.
  7. Dennis Ruhl

    Dennis Ruhl member

    As I said, road paving is a bigger political issue.

    I would be curious to know how many innovative but unaccredited, state licensed universities there are out there compared to the number of schools that are producing a weak product for mass consumption.

    At degreeinfo.com we regularly see people who are convinced they are getting a good education with life experience credits and multiple choice exams.

    I truly don't know, but accreditation can't be all that difficult. Thousands of schools have it. I would assume that having a real education program taught by qualified instructors in a stable financial environment and jumping a few hurdles would lead to accreditation. Try national accreditation if regional is too tough.

    Regional accreditors don't understand innovation, try DETC. School too small to afford accreditation, maybe the accreditors need to review fees for small schools to bring them into the fold.

    Accreditation, I assume is only a minimum standard and certainly a minimum standard can be expected by the public.

    Disallowing the use of a degree after someone has spent thousands (or tens of thousands) earning it is not the answer. Oregon has chosen to penalize the victim (in many cases) because the criminals (or misrepresenters ??) are outside their jurisdiction.

    Education is a state function but if the states sign on to a national standard, one by one, change is possible.

    In my neck of the woods, paving a highway will get you re-elected - talking about universities won't.
  8. irat

    irat New Member

    what is political will

    What is the political gain in restricting education?
    On the one hand accredited colleges and universities would welcome having less competition.
    On the other hand colleges and universities don't donate much to campaigns. and they keep asking for tax money. Si their clout is limited.
    The fundamentalist are demanding school choice.
    Restriciting school choice could be a political bad move.
    Consumers who use unaccredited schools may get together to demand reform.
    There aren't really that many people who get political on this issue.
    So if developing laws which put unaccredited school under greater scrutiny is important, who would be the advocates?
    All the best!

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