FreedomWorks Foundation’s Regulatory Action Center (RAC) submitted comments to the Department of Education supporting accreditation reform. An excerpt of the comments can be found below, and the full comments can be found in the attachment at the bottom of this article:
The primary reason FreedomWorks Foundation supports the proposed rule is that creating less prescriptive accreditation requirements would grant both accreditors and institutions of higher education a necessary increase in flexibility. Rather than unraveling oversight and allowing low-quality programs, as some critics have claimed, the rule change would allow institutions to tailor their programs to more closely meet the needs of their students, thus increasing quality. Currently, colleges, universities, and trade schools are stifled by regulatory barriers that would prevent such innovation. The current proposal would put these institutions in control of their own fate, resulting in massive benefits for them and, most importantly, students.
One important aspect of the proposed rule would allow institutions to expand without first receiving accreditor approval. Universities would be allowed to open satellite or branch campuses that would be accredited after opening. This relatively minor regulatory change opens up the door for greater expansion of higher education to underserved communities. This will open up a wider variety of opportunities for financially strapped families or those who face realities that force them to stay close to home. In doing so, the market for higher education will become more competitive and ensure fewer students have to turn down a quality education because of location.
Furthermore, previously accredited institutions of higher education that may not meet every single minute regulation would be allowed to maintain accreditation through a new status known as “substantial compliance.” Rather than losing accreditation almost immediately upon lapse of quality, “substantial compliance” would allow institutions up to a four year grace period under which they would be required to fix the regulatory lapses in their administration. The FreedomWorks Foundation has long emphasized that “one-size-fits-all” educational models do not work for our nation’s students. Allowing flexibility to experiment outside the bounds of some existing regulations will create a broader network of educational opportunities for students.