Accreditation does little to ensure educational quality.
Accreditation is rarely revoked due to poor educational standards. The main reason is more often than not down to lack of financial compliance by those organisations that have been accredited
Accreditation examines inputs and ignores outputs.
The public may assume that accreditation ensures good educational quality, but quality is not what the process measures. Accreditation only shows that the college/training organisation is following what the accreditors think is the proper formula, not whether the training organisation is actually successful at teaching students.
Nothing in the accreditation process concretely measures student learning, instructional quality, or academic standards.
Nothing measures whether students have made intellectual progress since high school or have attained a level of basic knowledge and competence that would be expected of college graduates. If the accrediting process were applied to automobile inspection, cars would pass as long as they had tyres, doors, and an engine without anyone ever turning the key to see if the car actually operated. Rather than requiring some objective verification that a training programme actually contributed to student achievement, the accrediting associations instructed colleges/universities to devise a means of assessing their own effectiveness.
Accreditation undermines institutional autonomy and diversity.
The problem with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education is that it rules out the employment of individuals who may be very knowledgeable in a field but who don’t possess the preferred credential. People can and do gain knowledge outside of accredited institutions. Â Some best-selling historians would be wonderful history instructors but do not have advanced degrees. Many writers are great at their professions regardless of academic credentials. There are exemplary economists who never earned a PhD in economics.
Accreditation contributes to ever-mounting education costs.
Tuition fees have been rising faster than inflation and accreditation directly influences the costs of courses. An ever-increasing number of students fighting for limited accredited places ensures that fees can be charged at a high rate. A basic case of supply and demand.
Accreditation creates an unaccountable, Government-run monopoly.
Accreditors do not sell their services in competition with other firms. Instead they operate as monopolies. As such, they have nearly unchecked power.
Accreditation is largely a secret process.
Accreditation Associations do not publish their evaluations of training institutions. Lists of members and any sanctions they have imposed are revealed but this is scant, minimal information.
Accreditation is a conflicted, closed, and clubby system.
Training institutions/Uni’s and Colleges pay fees to be accredited . The fact that accreditation is rarely revoked or denied may be explained, at least in part, by the reluctance of accreditors to cast off paying members. It is possible for a University/College to be sub-standard or weak in it’s educational quality, but that fact, even if it were noticed would not be made public knowledge.
What Can Be Done:
1) Make Accreditors prove their worth
Accreditors should have to take the test of the market. ie. earn enough in voluntary payments to cover all their operating costs. If they have anything worthwhile to offer, people will pay for their services. The public would benefit from a genuine ranking system. Accreditation Associations should act in a manner more akin to business consultants than monopolies.
2) Break the accreditor monopoly
Government intrusion results in diversity being reduced and encourages ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy without measurable benefits. Allowing one Accreditor to make all the rules makes no sense. The prospect of getting contracts could draw new accreditors into the field and open up a more competitive fair playing field. Accreditors claim that they protect the public from poor practice but the truth is that most of the public know nothing about accreditation. Corruption and cover ups within accreditation organisations to hide their own incompetencies (eg the recent CQC allegations in the UK) seem more important than protecting the public.
3) Reduce the cost of higher education
By eliminating the costs involved with becoming accredited, more attention could be given to overall educational objectives.
4) Ensure student achievement
Many reports suggest that the quality of education, especially in Universities and higher education facilities has been in decline over the past two decades. Part of this can be attributed to the rigidly controlled accreditation process by a minority that are unable to grasp the bigger picture. A bottle-neck system develops whereby there are not enough opportunities for people to train and gain access to their preferred career.
In summary, accreditation is an accepted and important element of quality improvement activities, sensitive to consumers who want to improve the safety and quality of health care services. Nevertheless, the evidence base for the usefulness of accreditation is thought to be incomplete. The need to undertake research in this area is of considerable public interest given that accreditation is frequently used and the cost of accreditation processes.