New Ed Dept database adds transparency on accreditation

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education last week launched a new database allowing users to search and view accreditation statuses and data for colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Campus Technology reports the database provides follow-up on guidance issued by the Obama administration last November that detailed rules for accrediting agencies reporting major actions such as probation or revocation of accreditation.
  • The benefits are two-fold in that the database provides transparency to stakeholders ranging from policymakers and state authorizers to students and parents, while also holding institutions accountable and ideally preventing them from losing accreditation.

Dive Insight:

The new database comes at a time when the for-profit higher ed sector especially has seen significant pressure from the Department of Education and policymakers at the federal and state levels. A loss of accreditation precipitated the shuttering of schools like ITT and Corinthian Colleges, and while the for-profit sector at large has faced investigations into alleged misrepresentation of outcomes in marketing and recruitment efforts — especially among a population that largely relies on student loans to attend — sudden closure only further hurts these students.

Publishing a searchable database can ultimately provide stronger incentive for institutions across the board to improve and maintain their standing, as their statuses are now at the fingertips of prospective students and families as well as lawmakers. And with institutions beyond the for-profit sector already facing pressure to improve from policies that would tie funding to student outcomes, this new layer of transparency only matters that much more.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Policy & Regulation