Ursinus College President Bobby Fong served on an American Council on Education National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation, which recently issued a report on how to improve the accreditation process.
Assuring Academic Quality in the 21st Century: Self-Regulation in a New Era urges the higher education community to strengthen the quality and public accountability of the accreditation process.
The task force considered the value of voluntary accreditation in light of wide-ranging changes in higher education, such as global competition and increased demand for public accountability.
The report offers six major recommendations for steps colleges, universities and regional accreditors:
- Increase the transparency of accreditation and clearly communicate its results.
- Increase the centrality of evidence about student success and educational quality.
- Take prompt, strong and public action against substandard institutions.
- Adopt a more “risk-sensitive” approach to regional accreditation.
- Seek common terminology, promote cooperation and expand participation.
- Enhance the cost-effectiveness of accreditation.
“Voluntary accreditation has served higher education extremely well for more than a century,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “However, the ACE Board of Directors urged the creation of this task force so we could share with the academic community an assessment of the value of voluntary peer review in light of wide-ranging changes in the higher education landscape.”
The task force, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met for the first time in spring 2011. The membership included presidents and chancellors from public and
private, nonprofit and for-profit, two-year and four-year institutions, along with accrediting agency officials and experts on accreditation. Dr. Fong was the only president representing a Pennsylvania college.
ACE, in consultation with members of the task force, plans to issue a follow-up report in 2014 on the progress made on the six recommendations.