“Too Big to Fail” in Higher Ed

Andrew P. Kelly nails it when it comes to funding for higher education. Here are the two of the concluding paragraphs:

Welcome to higher education’s version of “too big to fail.” Because accreditation is a binary variable—you either have it or you don’t—the stakes of revoking it are enormous. The higher the stakes, the less likely accreditation agencies are to pull the trigger, and the more difficult it is to ever put a bad college out of business. Faculty and advocates can argue that kicking more than 50,000 students to the curb is unjust, and current students will side with them.

And because public institutions are a creation of politics, not markets, politics will protect them. So the city of San Francisco and the House minority leader can step in to save local public colleges, regardless of whether they are serving the needs of students and taxpayers. According to Politico, Pelosi even hinted that Congress might get involved with an investigation of the ACCJC. As if the very real, structural problems uncovered by California’s own state audit were somehow ginned up by the accreditation agency.

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