Should eligibility for student aid continue to be linked to accreditation?

NACIQI Discussion Draft:
Higher Education Accreditation Reauthorization Policy Considerations

National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity,                October 18, 2011

In framing the issues for this dialogue, it was noted that the current system of recognition, accreditation, and student aid eligibility draws on a variety of players, definitions, and processes, which, in turn, pose a number of tensions, points of confusion, and areas of overlap. There are many actors: federal, state, professional/trade/membership organizations, and the public—all of whom play varying roles and have varying interests. There are commonalities and divergences among notions of “quality assurance,” “continuous improvement,” and “compliance.” There is confusion and incomplete overlap about compliance with regulation versus accreditation via peer review. And there is tension between notions of gate-keeping for student aid eligibility and notions of accreditation as a broader quality improvement and assurance process.
NACIQI considered a diverse range of topics in its deliberations and benefited from comments from federal and state actors, from accreditors, from beneficiaries of quality in higher education, and from accredited institutions, including perspectives from experts in education, policy, business, government, and beyond. Members agreed to focus on three main areas – the triad of actors in educational quality assurance; the scope, alignment, and accountability of accreditation activity; and regulatory burden and data needs. Following due consideration – including two public hearings, written comment, and extensive discussion — this document provides a series of considerations to include in the NACIQI response to the Secretary’s invitation.

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