The Forum | Trusteeship

Lawmakers View Accreditation Reform

July 17, 2015

ACTA has consistently called for an end to the monopolies that a small group of accrediting agencies now hold. In testimony before Congress last month, ACTA President Anne Neal stated, “In terms of the regionals—quite frankly I think the regional accrediting bodies are nothing less than cartels. We’ve allowed the bodies to carve up the Unites States and to basically have a captive market of those schools that are in their region.” Now Senator Marco Rubio has publicly declared as a presidential candidate that he intends to put an end to this dysfunctional system, “Within my first 100 days, I will bust this cartel by establishing a new accreditation process that welcomes low-cost, innovative providers.” This idea has merit. Opening up the accreditation market to allow not only competing accreditors but specialized accreditors and innovative educational platforms would change the culture of higher education—and much for the better. Rubio also praised the complementary initiative of Senator Mike Lee from Utah who, alongside Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), introduced the HERO Act earlier this spring. This proposed legislation would grant states their own accrediting authority. Such a move would give institutions—public universities, for-profits, vocational educators—a second pathway to accreditation, generating competition and choice in higher education quality control. It could not come too soon. In addition to the high cost of the existing accreditation system and its intrusiveness into governance issues that are properly the domain of the trustees, the accreditors have too often failed to protect students and the public interest. Witness SACS missing UNC’s 18-year academic fraud and ACICS’s failure to check Corinthian College’s financial projection. It is a very positive sign that political leadership has taken on the issue of higher education quality with such focus and boldness. 


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

Discover More