Trump’s Plans To Fire College Accreditors Will Be Difficult To Enact, Industry Professionals Claim

  • Post category:News / US News
Trump’s Plans To Fire College Accreditors Will Be Difficult To Enact, Industry Professionals Claim

  • Former President Donald Trump unveiled his higher education agenda on Tuesday that included firing college and university accreditors who do not hold colleges and universities accountable for a new set of standards that would include protecting free speech, cutting administrative waste and eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) “bureaucrats.”
  • Accrediting agencies are given authority from the Department of Education (DOE) under the Higher Education Act to verify that colleges and universities provide quality education in order to receive federal financial aid, according to the DOE.
  • “From our perspective, the way we do it is we go through this process and we don’t really worry about or look at the politics of the moment,” Sonny Ramaswamy, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU) president, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We adhere to our standards, we adhere to our requirements. We’re focused exclusively on student achievement and success.

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Former President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to fire college accreditors that do not uphold a new set of educational standards that he proposed this week may be difficult to implement, industry experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Trump, one of several candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, announced his higher education agenda in a campaign video on Tuesday during which he promised to replace “failed” accreditors with those who will uphold standards that include “defending the American tradition and Western civilization.” Non-governmental agencies are given authority to accredit colleges and universities by the Department of Education (DOE) under the Higher Education Act that was passed by Congress in 1965, making it unclear how Trump’s plan could be implemented, Politico reported. (RELATED: Trump Unveils Plan To ‘Save’ Education From ‘Radical Left Maniacs’)

Trump announced a new set of standards for colleges and universities to abide by in order to maintain accreditation status, according to the campaign video. The standards mirror several cultural issues that have been zeroed in on by Republican lawmakers, including protecting freedom of speech and eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) “bureaucrats.”

“Accreditation in the United States is a non-governmental, self-regulatory, peer review system,” Belle Wheelan, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC) president, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Much of the work and the decisions are made by peer volunteers in the profession and public representatives. Colleges and universities were engaged in this work long before the Department of Education was created.”

Colleges and universities must be accredited by a federally-recognized agency in order to receive federal financial aid, according to the DOE website. The agencies determine whether or not higher education institutions meet a department-specified set of standards that ensure students receive high quality academic programming.

“From our perspective, the way we do it is we go through this process and we don’t really worry about or look at the politics of the moment,” Sonny Ramaswamy, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU) president, told the DCNF. “We adhere to our standards, we adhere to our requirements. We’re focused exclusively on student achievement and success.”

Adam Kissel, visiting fellow on higher education reform at the Heritage Foundation, told the DCNF that “accreditation reform is vital to restoring American higher education.” He praised Trump’s agenda for bringing attention to higher education, but admitted that “full reform will require much-needed legislation.”

 

Other standards Trump suggested included cutting “wasteful administrative” jobs, “offering accelerated options for low-cost degrees, providing meaningful job placement and career services and implementing college entry and exit exams to prove that students are actually learning and getting their money’s worth,” according to the video.

“Accreditation and higher education have become a battleground for larger issues,” Jamienne Studley, Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission president and Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions chairwoman, told Inside Higher Education. “My hope is that it will not undercut the important values that have served American higher education for so long and that we can continue to respect the diversity of institutions that we have honored for so long.”

Studley, who served in the Education Department during the Clinton and Obama administrations, said that accrediting agencies do not determine what colleges and universities teach.

“As the campaign season begins, you’re going to have various political candidates speaking to various issues and what we try to do is not worry about any of that because, again, the political candidates may say whatever they want to, but as you know we are… under the authority of the Higher Education Act that Congress passed,” Ramaswamy told the DCNF. “From there, the Higher Education Act is converted into the regulations [from] the Department of Education.”

Accrediting agencies are subjected to a DOE review every five years, during which they submit information regarding its decisions, policies, standards, requirements, commissioners and members, Ramaswamy explained. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), which was authorized under the Higher Education Act, advises the education secretary on accrediting matters and “provides recommendations” about the agencies, its website reads.

Trump also promised to order the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate institutions “that engage in racial discrimination and schools that persist in explicit, unlawful discrimination under the guise of equity.” Colleges and universities found to implement such practices would “have their endowments taxed” and would be issued a fine that would be used to provide “restitutions” to the case victims, according to the video.

“While threats to free speech, religious liberty, and academic freedom have spread like wildfire across college campuses, accreditation agencies have remained silent. Moreover, instead of focusing on academic quality at institutions and what’s best for students, too many accreditors spend their time, money, and energy on ideological crusades like DEI and [Critical Race Theory],” Bob Eitel, president and co-founder of Defense for Freedom Institute, told the DCNF. “That has to stop. With the right reforms enacted by Congress, we can envision a new system that places students first and requires accreditation agencies permanently to put aside their progressive fever dreams.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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