AACRAO feels strongly about the need to maintain the integrity and accountability of the Higher Education Act's gatekeeping system of federal recognition, accreditation and state licensure policies.

Federal Recognition

  • AACRAO recognizes the responsibility of higher education to strengthen its own oversight and accountability and supports reasonable changes to the accreditation process and state licensure.

Accreditation

  • Academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and federal non-intervention in the academic affairs of colleges and universities are paramount to their ability to fulfill their missions of teaching and learning, research, and service.
  • AACRAO is committed to an institutions' ability to regulate their academic affairs without governmental interference.
  • AACRAO believes that the accreditation process, based on institutional peer review, remains the best mechanism for quality assurance.

State Licensure

  • AACRAO supports substantive state licensure programs with oversight and consumer protection activities appropriate to the level of risk.
  • Such alternative state regulatory frameworks, if designed carefully, can lead to the rooting out of fraudulent or predatory practices while, at the same time, providing compliance relief to legitimate institutions.

State Authorization

  • Although state authorization is designed to be a key protector of the integrity of Title IV Federal Student Aid programs, states vary greatly in their practices in this regard. The rapid growth of distance education has further contributed to confusion regarding state authorization.
  • Some institutions, seeking to evade the more robust licensure requirements of some states, have set up operations in states with the weakest licensure requirements and have been conducting business nationwide from these locations.
  • AACRAO supports efforts to extend minimum standards of state authorization for participation in Title IV programs to distance education programs and correspondence courses, but is wary of any federal requirement that may overly burden well-intentioned institutions with relatively few students enrolled outside of the state.
  • The association endorses recognition of state authorization through participation in reciprocity agreements under which institutions receiving significant funding from any state would be allowed to provide distance education in all states without multistate approvals, provided that they do not exceed certain ratios in revenues or enrollments outside their own state.

Credit Transfer

  • In an era where increasing numbers of students transfer at least once in their college careers, AACRAO supports college and university faculty-led initiatives to examine and improve the transfer process.
  • At the same time, academic judgment about equivalency of coursework from one institution to another must rightly be kept within academic institutions and governmental non-interference in such decisions should be preserved.

Diploma Mills and Credential Fraud

  • The number of diploma mills – from fake "high schools" to "doctoral" institutions – has risen dramatically in the past decade, resulting in a proliferation of claims of educational attainment based upon fraudulent and questionable credentials.
  • AACRAO supports international efforts to combat diploma mills and credential fraud, actively partnering with federal agencies, international counterparts, foreign ministries of education, and law enforcement to identify and expose these institutions.