The Business of University Accreditation

In the U.S., it is not necessary for an institution of higher learning to obtain accreditation from the U.S. Education Department in order to grant degrees. The IUPS chose not to pursue this route as it offers the university greater flexibility in granting credit for past relevant professional and training experiences, as well as to keep the tuition fees low. A worthwhile six-minute video by MSNBC talks about “whether a school that has no faculty offices, research labs, community spaces for students, or professors paid to do scholarly work still be called a university?” (the key issue tackled is the sharp rising cost of education in the U.S.)

College upgraded? Is college doomed? Watch the discussion here.

The U.S. higher education accreditation issue is complex, but if one were to take the risk to oversimplify, the problem revolves around the fact that the educational curriculum is out of pace with changes in society, economy and the environment, as well as around the limitations faced by higher learning institutions in bringing innovation to their educational programmes. Even up to 2020, many accrediting bodies had been hostile to innovations like online learning—they had yet to find effective ways to institute and recognise online learning. Many accreditation bodies still favour existing expensive business models for higher education, thereby making it difficult for new (perhaps more relevant) models to emerge. The U.S. Department of Education should make it a priority to re-classify “quality education” and redefine education outcomes.

In their interview with Krieghbaum, Phillips S. and Kinser K. (2018), authors of “Accreditation on the Edge,” identified five critical issues with the accreditation reform: a) simple solutions are very hard to imagine as workable reforms; b) reaching agreement on what counts as quality, and how one measures it is highly problematic in reform; c) accreditation serves many masters with different goals, resulting in multiple and often contradictory missions; d) in the age of information there are real questions about the accuracy, relevance and use of information generated from the accreditation process; and e) while innovation is a logical outcome of reform, a greater speed of change will inevitably call for tolerance of greater risk of failure. All in all, the emphasis of the above-mentioned book is on the deregulation in accreditation, which creates the greatest risk for students, as they are ultimately the ones to be the most affected.

Krieghbaum A. (2018), Tipping point for accreditors

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