Key U.S. Official Wants to Ease Accreditors’ Compliance-Monitoring Role

Speaking to an audience of accreditors and university representatives on Wednesday, the federal government’s top higher-education official said clarifying the role of accrediting institutions was a major goal for him.

Ted Mitchell, the under secretary of education, told attendees at a workshop held by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation that accreditors’ acceptance of more responsibility over the years for monitoring colleges had created “complicated expectations for institutions, regulators, politicians, and the public.”

Much of the work accreditors do to ensure that colleges comply with federal regulations is “less appropriate to accreditors than it may be to the state or federal government,” said Mr. Mitchell, who is the No. 2 official in the Department of Education and oversees all programs related to postsecondary education and federal student aid.

“If I could focus on a spot today,” he said, “it would be the compliance work and seeing if we could relieve accreditors of the burden of taking that on for us.”

Mr. Mitchell also expressed support for a tiered-accreditation system, in which historically well-performing institutions would be subject to less-intrusive reviews. Mr. Mitchell said the department also supported regulations for accreditors that were “less prescriptive, less costly, and less granular,” while still upholding a standard of gatekeeping. <Read more.>

Via Dan Bauman, The Chronicle of Higher Education.