Higher education accreditation creates barriers to entry for innovative start-ups while being a poor gauge of program quality and student outcomes. What began as a voluntary system became a de facto requirement, with accreditors abusing their power. To harness the potential of new learning modes, policymakers should consider meaningful structural changes to this ossified system. Any substantial higher education reform must include accreditation reform: decoupling accreditation from student aid, ending regional monopolies, and inhibiting abuses of power. Addressing these issues would help accreditors to return to quality control while supporting innovation.
As Congress renews its work on HEA reauthorization, one area of higher education policy is in desperate need of reform: the dysfunctional accreditation system.
Accreditation is often a costly process for institutions, while offering little quality control, and it increasingly mandates “woke” university policies.
Congress can take several steps to rectify this situation and return accreditation to its original function as a mechanism for quality assurance and improvement.
This report was originally published by The Heritage Foundation on June 20, 2023.