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Inside HLC’s new effort to vet outside credential providers

Inside HLC’s new effort to vet outside credential providers

Higher Ed Dive

Natalie Schwartz
October 20, 2023
Students looking to gain new skills have a staggering number of options they can pursue these days. About 1.1 million credentials are available in the U.S., and some three-fifths of those are from nonacademic providers, one recent tally found.
Moreover, it can be easier to access credentials from nonacademic providers like LinkedIn and Microsoft than traditional providers, a group of authors argued in a 2022 white paper for the Higher Learning Commission, or HLC, an accrediting agency.
In response, colleges have been exploring ways to embed alternative credentials into their existing programs by joining forces with outside groups. But it’s difficult for college leaders to assess whether these potential partners would provide value to their students.
Those trends are what drove HLC to launch an initiative last month called the Credential Lab. With a $250,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to partially support the initiative, HLC’s Credential Lab will develop and implement an evaluation model for vetting the quality of alternative credential providers.
“There’s new content providers coming into the picture,” said HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley. “There’s an overwhelming need to have some group — or multiple groups — say there’s a quality assurance of these particular providers.”
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