Phi Beta Cons

Does the Accreditation System Do Any Good?

Accreditation, a soporific subject long ignored, has been getting quite a lot of attention lately. Jay Schalin writes about the barrage of criticism that the accrediting system has taken, even from quarters that are generally friendly to the higher-ed establishment, in a Pope Center piece last week.

Accreditation has turned into one of those “the emperor is wearing no clothes” cases: it has a completely undeserved reputation for ensuring quality in the schools that get the stamp of approval when in fact it does no such thing. It is a very inefficient way of keeping students from wasting federal college subsidies on diploma mills, but it gives the accreditors a great deal of leverage over colleges, leverage that is often abused in pursuit of leftist fads.

It is time to decouple institutional eligibility for federal funds from accreditation. If accreditation has any useful role to play, let it make that case to institutions free to say “no thanks.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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