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ERIC Number: ED508609
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar-2
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
False Fronts? Behind Higher Education's Voluntary Accountability Systems
Kelly, Andrew P.; Aldeman, Chad
Education Sector
The major higher education trade associations have addressed the calls for transparency and accountability by creating two public online databases into which colleges are able to voluntarily submit information on costs and outcomes. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) launched its University and College Accountability Network (U-CAN) in September 2007. Just a few months later, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, (now known as the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, or APLU) announced the birth of their Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA). The associations have touted these efforts as a step toward meeting the pressing need for increased accountability, and a number of state systems of higher education have joined in, adopting the VSA model for their own institutions. A close examination of these two prominent efforts reveals serious flaws that undermine their utility as engines of accountability. For these efforts and others like them to improve consumer choice and exert meaningful pressure on schools to improve, they need to be more complete, comparison-friendly, and designed to highlight institutional differences. If existing flaws are not resolved, the nation runs the risk of ending up in the worst of all worlds: the appearance of higher education accountability without the reality. As such, policymakers and consumers should not be persuaded that these systems satisfy the need for increased transparency and accountability in higher education until their flaws are addressed. (Contains 3 figures, 1 table, and 15 endnotes.)
Education Sector. 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 850, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-552-2840; Fax: 202-775-5877; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Sector
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Survey of Student Engagement