Ed Dept advisory group recommends pulling ACICS’ federal recognition

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation advisory group voted in favor of the agency staff’s recommendation to terminate the recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
  • The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity’s recommendation to terminate recognition will be handed off to a senior department official, who will make the final decision. Eleven committee members voted in favor of pulling credit, and one member voted against it.
  • The embattled accreditor of for-profit colleges pushed back on the findings that formed the basis of the recommendation and said it had made several changes to its oversight process.

Dive Insight:

The merits of ACICS’ federal recognition have been publicly debated since 2016 when the Obama administration pulled it following the collapse of two large for-profit college chains it oversaw. The Trump administration reinstated its approval of the accreditor in 2018.

42215d8a7566b2be742bcb44b03cbaa2But the department has continued to find ACICS out of compliance with several of its regulations. It’s not the only entity to raise concerns. An accreditation industry group committee recommended denying ACICS its endorsement; the accreditor responded by rescinding its application to be considered.

The Ed Department staff recommendation was delivered in a series of reports in January that said the accreditor hadn’t fulfilled essential oversight requirements, including the efficacy of its training for site visitors, its ability to monitor institutions, and its financial health. Two of the reports were commissioned by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reinstate recognition.

A USA Today investigation last year highlighted some of those concerns. It found evidence that an ACICS-accredited institution appeared to lack students and faculty and that the accreditor was unaware. The department report pointed to that situation as an indication ACICS lacks “the administrative capacity to carry out its accreditation activities.”

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