Innovation in Quality Assurance and Accreditation: New CHEA Report

innovation in quality assurance accreditation report

Drivers of societal, demographic and economic change are well-established. Is higher education changing fast enough? Is accreditation a barrier or enabler of change?

Recent survey from CHEA asked accreditors about the types of “innovative offerings” they currently review in the institutions that they accredit. 85% of institutional accreditors reported their reviews include distance education. Are these “innovative” enough? The majority still do not review nontraditional/alternative providers of higher education (a.k.a. badges, MOOCS, bootcamps and microcredentials ).

Four key points emerge from the survey:
•Accrediting organizations, in general, view themselves as moderately innovative.
•Innovation, as described by accrediting organizations, most often referred to distance education, competency-based education, changes in accreditation standards and the frequency with which either accreditors, institutions or programs were undertaking substantive change asdefined by the federal government in its oversight of accreditation.
•While a number of accrediting organizations review partnerships between traditional institutions and alternative providers of higher education, the majority do not plan to expand their work to focus solely on alternative providers.
•Accreditors view funding constraints and the traditional higher education business model as barriers to innovation in their work.

The report notes that “Accreditors view federal regulation, funding constraints and the traditional higher education business model as barriers to innovation in their work.”