Planning for Higher Education Journal

What’s an Accrediting Agency Supposed to Do?

Institutional Quality and Improvement vs. Regulatory Compliance
Journal Cover
From Volume 40 Number 3 | April–June 2012
By Elizabeth H. Sibolski

Regional accreditation in the United States is nearly 100 years old and has continued to focus on its founding principles, including academic quality and institutional improvement. Significant federal financial commitments to higher education date back to the mid-1950s, and the provision of these ballooning expenditures has been linked to accreditation. Tensions have developed between the original purposes of accreditation and the growing need for regulatory compliance to ensure that federal funds are well spent. This article describes those tensions, identifies current efforts to address them, and offers some practical suggestions for the future.

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