Accreditation Decisions Should Uphold Academic Freedom

AAUP president Irene Mulvey submitted public comments to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), urging the body responsible for making recommendations to the US Department of Education on issues related to accreditation and educational quality to uphold principles of academic freedom as political interference increases.

President Mulvey told the committee “The AAUP believes that academic freedom, tenure, and shared governance are essential to institutional quality and that commitment to these principles has helped to make the US system of higher education the best in the world. We are therefore deeply disturbed by recent attacks on higher education that target these essential principles, and we are calling on NACIQI to exercise stronger oversight of US accreditation with regard to them.”

Recent incidents of political inference in higher education threaten educational quality. Florida has become an unfortunate ground zero for such political interference. The state has introduced laws limiting teaching of certain subjects, targeted equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, and required institutions to change accreditors following an accrediting body’s inquiries into Florida institutions. Without further action, other states may follow. In more than forty states, educational gag orders restricting the teaching of specific topics in K–12 or higher education have been introduced.

These actions interfere with the ability of faculty to teach their subject matter and deliver high quality education. The AAUP requested that NACIQI consider that if an institution is found to have permitted egregious violations of academic freedom, tenure, or shared governance, accrediting agencies should take decisive action, including withdrawing accreditation if such violations are not corrected.

The full written statement is available here.

Publication Date: 
Monday, February 27, 2023