Accreditation: How It Works and Is It Working?
This chapter focuses on the issues and challenges facing higher education accreditation and how regional accrediting bodies play a significant role in the broader systemic problems facing public colleges and universities. One of the challenges facing the nation’s regional accreditation bodies is the general lack of understanding of their goals, objectives, and processes by faculty, administrators, and governing boards. The history and purposes of accreditation are outlined which provide the foundation for a discussion of the present issues and challenges including major concerns of conflict of interests built into the system. This assessment views the present accreditation policies as one of the obstacles to much needed reforms in the nation’s institutions of higher education. The role played by accreditation in the federal student loan programs is discussed as are the widespread concerns arising from Congress, legislators, and policy makers. Other models of quality assurance are presented and discussed including the Bologna Process and related innovations.