Number 18, September 28, 2011
NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY AND INTEGRITY TO MEET DECEMBER 14-16, 2011
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), which advises the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) on recognition of accrediting organizations, will meet December 14-16, 2011 in Alexandria, Virginia. The three-day meeting will consist of two parts: review of specific accrediting organizations, State agencies for the approval of nursing education and State agencies for the approval of public postsecondary vocational education; and further discussion of NACIQI's recommendations to USDE concerning the reauthorizationof the Higher Education Act (HEA).
In December 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan requested that NACIQI develop recommendations regarding "what is working (and not working) in the current system of recognition, accreditation, and student eligibility." These recommendations will serve as the basis for USDE legislative proposals in advance of the next HEA reauthorization, expected to get underway in 2013. NACIQI has met twice - on February 3-4, 2011 and June 8-10, 2011 - to consider these accreditation-related issues. (See Federal Updates #14 and #16.)
U.S. SENATE CONTINUES FOCUS ON FOR-PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION
The U.S. Senate continued a series of reports and hearings on for-profit higher education. On September 22, 2011, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) issued a report and the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security held a hearing, both focusing on revenues received by for-profit colleges and universities from federal G.I. bill funds.
The report and the hearing paid special attention to the fact that G.I. bill funds are not counted as federal funding in USDE's rule requiring that for-profit schools (as well as other colleges and universities) receive no more than 90 percent of their funding from federal student aid. While accreditation was not a major topic at the hearing, the issue of degree mills and accreditation mills was discussed, as were transfer-of-credit issues.
USDE PROPOSES AMENDING GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS
On September 27, 2011, the USDE published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, to amend gainful employment regulations that became effective on July 1, 2011. (For more on the gainful employment regulations, see Federal Update #16). According to the notice, the USDE is proposing the amendments "to streamline the application and approval process for new educational programs that qualify for student financial assistance under title IV of the HEA." Public comments on the proposed amendments are due by November 14, 2011.
CHEA URGES REPEAL OF CREDIT HOUR AND STATE AUTHORIZATION REGULATIONS
In letters sent earlier this year to Congress and to the USDE, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), with other higher education associations and accrediting organizations, has strongly urged repeal of the credit hour and state authorization regulations (see Federal Update #16). State authorization regulations requiring distance education programs to be authorized in every state where students are enrolled were recently struck down on procedural grounds by the U.S. District Court (see Federal Update #17); however, USDE has appealed the court's decision.
Legislation to repeal state authorization and credit hour regulations has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate (S. 1297) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 2117). Both bills have bipartisan support. S. 1297 was referred to the Senate HELP Committee, where no action has been taken to date. The House Education and Workforce Committee passed H.R. 2117 out of committee on June 15, 2011 in a bipartisan vote. CHEA urges accredited colleges and universities and recognized accrediting organizations to call their senators and their representatives to ask them to support this important legislation.
DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION LEAVES USDE
James Kvaal, Deputy Under Secretary of Education, is leaving USDE to join the campaign to re-elect President Obama. Kvaal - who joined the USDE staff in 2010 after serving on the White House National Economic Council - advised Secretary Duncan on postsecondary education policy. While there has been speculation in the media on who might succeed Kvaal, no announcement has been made by USDE.
The Federal Update informs CHEA members and interested parties on federal policy developments related to self-regulation and peer review. Please direct any inquiries or comments to Jan Friis, CHEA Vice President for Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 955-6126.