Accreditation agencies sit at the center of the U.S. higher education system, vetting colleges and universities on whether they deserve to be entrusted with $120 billion in federal financial aid each year. These once-obscure nonprofit organizations have increasingly come under scrutiny over whether they are up to the task. Do they hold institutions to rigorous standards? Do they protect students from schools that will do them more harm than good? Are they able to foster innovation and help find new models of low-cost, high-quality education? Are they successfully balancing issues of quality improvement and accountability?
What if we could go back to the drawing board and find an alternative? The Center for American Progress is releasing “A Quality Alternative,” a vision for a new system that could complement and compete with traditional accreditors by encouraging innovation and setting rigorous standards for quality. This report joins a chorus of other voices calling for reform and alternative forms of quality assurance.
Please join CAP for a panel discussion on alternative ways of encouraging access to federal aid for innovative new providers while better ensuring taxpayer dollars go to good use. The event will explore questions such as: How do we balance more innovation in higher education with the need for strong consumer protection? What strengths of the existing quality assurance system should be kept and what weaknesses should be fixed? And where do different solutions share common themes?
Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President, Policy, Center for American Progress
Ted Mitchell, Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education
Judith Eaton, President, Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Paul Freedman, Co-Founder and CEO, Entangled Ventures
Ben Miller, Senior Director, Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress
Goldie Blumenstyk, Senior Writer, The Chronicle of Higher Education