ACICS pledges massive reforms in wake of criticism
- In a sweeping series of reforms, the Accrediting Council for Independent Schools and Colleges yesterday responded to calls for revocation of its governing authority over for-profit colleges and universities receiving federal student aid.
The organization pledges reforms in site review, ethics in student recruitment and achievement data and suspends new membership for implementation of new standards.
Reforms include publishing new assessment data on international student recruitment and admission.
While the reforms address long-standing issues with alleged predatory recruitment and false promises of job placement post-graduation, it may be too little, too late to appease attorneys general nationwide who have called for the expulsion of ACICS from the U.S. Department of Education’s approved roster of accrediting bodies.
The DOE has made no secret of its desire to clear for-profit colleges with high costs and questionable degree value in the industrial marketplace, a desire that has translated to efforts to boost community colleges as an alternative for adult learners who typically seek the convenience of online, for-profit programs in spite of the high costs. But could the effort to marginalize these schools, and the association which co-signs their institutional integrity for receiving federal funds, help to set a new standard for other institutions and accrediting agencies?
Questions abound for other agencies. The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, which accredits many small, low-enrollment institutions, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which evaluate colleges with marginal outcomes or those which face extreme financial difficulty may feel increased pressure to levy greater scrutiny on the institutions they are charged to evaluate to avoid similar rebuke.
- Accrediting Council for Independent Schools and Colleges Press Release: ACICS Announces Hiatus on New Members, Other Reforms to Strengthen Student Protection and Quality Standards