May 23, 2023
North Carolina’s public institutions, including community colleges, would need to change accreditors every cycle — typically between five and 10 years — under a bill that passed the state’s Senate this month.
Certain academic programs that may have more intricate or specific accreditation requirements, such as those in law, pharmacy or engineering, would be exempt under the bill.
Public colleges would also be able to sue individuals who knowingly made false statements about them to accreditors, if an accreditor reviews the institution as a result of the lie. The falsehood would have to be about something that, if true, would put the college out of compliance with accreditation standards.
Accreditors generally have enjoyed a position out of the political fray, enabling them to focus on their roles overseeing federal student aid and assuring colleges meet certain financial and operational benchmarks.
But that has changed in recent years with targeting from conservative lawmakers. Most recently, former President Donald Trump this month outlined an audacious vision to replace the current slate of accreditors nationwide with organizations that would impose new rules on colleges, such as banning diversity officers.
North Carolina’s proposed legislation seems to stem from a political battle involving the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC, which accredits University of North Carolina System colleges.