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US set to tighten university accreditation rules

US set to tighten university accreditation rules

Times Higher Ed

Paul Basken
March 18, 2024
The Biden administration is signaling plans to tighten rules for the accreditation of US universities, though not to the degree that student advocacy groups see as necessary in the fast-moving era of online instruction.
The administration recently completed a wide-ranging negotiated rule-making session on matters of institutional quality in which it largely agreed that campuses and states have been pursuing some oversight shortcuts in the name of efficiency that might exacerbate many of the problems it has been battling in the student loan context.
Those issues include the ability of institutions to seek accreditation from evaluators that appear most beneficial to them, to keep their accreditation for years despite failed reviews and the practice of states relying on the accreditors and other states for their own institutional review processes.
On balance, the process appears to have produced a net gain for student and taxpayer protections, said one of the participants, Barmak Nassirian, the vice-president for higher education policy at Veterans Education Success.
But it could be a long time before that actual effect is known, Mr. Nassirian said. “Because, candidly, everything else we do, at the end of the day, depends on good-faith execution,” he said.
Negotiated rule-making is a somewhat arcane practice of the federal government in which the president’s administration can write regulations that fill out the details of laws passed by Congress. The process generally requires administration officials to assemble a group of affected parties and to hear their suggestions, but not necessarily incorporate any particular elements into the final regulatory language.
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