Discuss the level of oversight on higher education institutions imposed by federal and state government and regional accrediting agencies. Do you feel this level of oversight is justified? Why? Do you feel like there should be more oversight or less, and who should be responsible for insuring colleges and universities meet up to the goals they have established? Who should set the goals for higher education institutions? Should higher education institutions be assessed more like many public K-12 institutions?
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The level of oversight on higher education institutions imposed by federal and state government focus more on the thresholds and allowances for Title IV funding and affordability. With the far reaching improprieties of for profit schools culminating in campus closures with little to no notice to the student, it seems as if the federal government is doing little to regulate tuition costs and work force development, and leaving that up for the states to regulate. As a College Director, I see much more stringent governance from the State of Texas Workforce Commission with its routine campus visits to review refund calculations and faculty credentialing, compliance, and other organizational concerns than I do from a federal agency. Career colleges much like any other higher educational institution are regionally accredited and in most cases programmatically accredited. These agencies have greater concerns with outcomes such as completions rate, graduation rate, employment/placement rates etc. This oversight helps to keep organizations focused on the quality of education and ensuring that graduates are gainfully employed and able to manage their college debts when they come out of college. The Department of VA-Educational Services division provides an additional prong of oversight to ensure veteran students are treated fairly and are afforded a quality educational experience. This agency alone can be a nightmare to deal with when you are facing a grievance from a student(s) receiving Post-911 GI benefits. I don’t feel there is a shortage of oversight effecting the higher education institutions; but a huge deficit in those who are tasked with governance who truly understand the needs of the student learner experience and sincere effort to meet the desired outcomes of gainful employment, affordable education, skillful labor force meeting the industry demands of today and the future. If anything we should be seeing more oversight towards financial and fiduciary responsibilities of board members and shareholders. The recent debacle with ECA-Education Corporation America, announcing a teach out of over 50 campuses, right on the heels of my own employer-Zenith Education Group announcing the closure of all but three of its 23 schools certainly makes you question the business acumen of those residing at the top levels of the institutions.
Goals for the higher education institutions should be set by the same accrediting agencies, state and federal constituents as they have previously been with a critical look at the individuals who are in the positions of managing the process of goal setting. We must stop putting people in positions of authority and governance who do not care about education reform, affordability, accountability and outcomes. If you are unable to articulate and demonstrate a knowledgeable, successful track record in these areas, then the agencies regulating and providing governance will continue to fail. Our regulatory bodies for higher education are filled with people who just don’t have the moral turpitude or experiential background to be where they are and most importantly; they have no desire to ensure that our educational system is being run properly.