NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED536283
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 60
Abstractor: ERIC
The Inmates Running the Asylum? An Analysis of Higher Education Accreditation
Gillen, Andrew; Bennett, Daniel L.; Vedder, Richard
Center for College Affordability and Productivity (NJ1)
Accreditation in higher education originated as a means of communicating useful information about the quality of various institutions of higher education. Yet, over the past half century accreditation has evolved into a system for determining eligibility for the receipt of funds from third parties, most notably the federal government, but also in many cases state governments or private philanthropies. The typical policy paper on accreditation does a fine job of detailing the history of the system and major issues that confront it today. It then usually concludes by sketching out some recommended reform. However, while it may point out a few areas in which the proposed reform would be an improvement over the current system, there is rarely any discussion about how such a reform is better than the alternatives, or what impact it would have in other areas. This paper takes a slightly different approach. While throughout the authors do discuss some of the historical role of accreditation, their main focus is on evaluating the performance of the current system and evaluating possible reforms. Part one presents their analysis of accreditation's performance. They identify four eras of accreditation in order to assess both its effectiveness and its changing role over time. Part two of the paper identifies the most commonly suggested reforms of, and replacements for, accreditation. The authors analyze the likely impact of each reform, and briefly discuss whether it would be appropriate given the goals as have been discussed. The third part of the paper builds off the conclusions of the first two parts to make the case for replacing the accreditation system. The final part lays out their recommendations. (Contains 17 tables and 208 notes.)
Center for College Affordability and Productivity. 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW Suite L 26, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-621-0536; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation for Education
Authoring Institution: Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)