AAUP Testimony on Accreditation

By Jenna Sablan

AAUP president Irene Mulvey recently submitted oral and written testimony 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 at a time when political interference in higher education is increasing.

NACIQI held its spring meeting from February 28 to March 2 to discuss recommendations on renewal of existing accrediting agencies, including the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

During the general policy discussion, the AAUP’s comments focused on recent incidents of political interference in higher education. Florida, for example, has introduced laws limiting teaching of certain subjects; has targeted equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives; and has required institutions to change accreditors following an accrediting body’s inquiries into the state’s institutions. Without further action to curb such interference, other states may follow. Legislators in more than forty states have introduced educational gag orders seeking to restrict the teaching of specific topics in K–12 or higher education.

In its testimony to NACIQI, the AAUP argued that accrediting agencies should take decisive action, including withdrawing accreditation, if an institution is found to have permitted egregious violations of academic freedom, tenure, or shared governance and has failed to correct such violations.