Ed Dept. Clarifies Guidelines on Switching Accreditors

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The Education Department on Tuesday released new guidelines for colleges to follow when requesting a change in accrediting agencies. The new guidance was created to help “prevent a race to the bottom in quality standards among accrediting agencies” among new policies that allow colleges to change accrediting agencies.

The new process will first require colleges looking to change accrediting agencies to get approval from the Education Department before applying. The college must notify the department of whom their current accrediting agency is and demonstrate reasonable cause, with evidence, for changing or adding a new agency.

The department also released guidance on how it will determine reasonable cause for changing an accreditor. Requests to change accrediting agencies will be rejected if the college has received action due to bad standing with its accrediting agency or if it is changing agencies to lessen oversight on the institution. The department will approve requests only if a college is able to demonstrate that a change in accreditor will improve institutional quality.

“These clarifications are intended to ensure that institutions are held to high standards, and that an institution subject to oversight by its current accrediting agency cannot simply seek to evade accountability by jumping to a different accrediting agency,” said Antoinette Flores, senior advisor of the Office of Postsecondary Education at the department in a blog post on the new guidelines.

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