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ERIC Number: ED555551
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct-29
Pages: 22
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Launching New Institutions: Solving the Chicken-or-Egg Problem in American Higher Education
Manning, Sylvia
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Currently, a US college or university must be accredited to be eligible to receive federal financial aid. To get accredited, an institution must have already been serving students, but most students are dependent on federal financial aid. As a result, in order to launch a new college or university, there is an insurmountable problem: having students is a prerequisite for accreditation, but it is difficult to attract them without access to financial aid. Therefore a classic chicken-or-egg dilemma. As the higher education debate has come to focus on the need for innovative education models, this chicken-or-egg problem is one issue that has placed accreditation on the national agenda, leading reformers to call on accreditors to change their standards and speed up their approvals. To define the most pressing problem areas in accreditation, however, it is important to distinguish the chicken-or-egg problem--which sees accreditation as a barrier to entry for new organizations--from the related but separate criticism that accreditation's focus on inputs (for example, faculty qualifications and the adequacy of facilities) is fundamentally at odds with higher education innovation. This paper argues that while the latter criticism misunderstands the value of accreditation's conservatism, the chicken-or-egg dilemma does capture a real obstacle to new organizations. In essence, accreditation is a bet that, based on current evidence, the institution will continue to offer an acceptable level of quality in the education it provides. To make this bet, accreditors unapologetically consider inputs and student outcomes.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-862-5800; Fax: 202-862-7177; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research