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The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which oversees the country's higher ed accrediting bodies, voted Thursday to have a subcommittee study oversight questions involved in for-profit colleges seeking to reclassify as nonprofit entities. 

The decision followed several hours of input from organizations critical of for-profits schools as well as representatives from the sector. Critics have argued institutions -- among them Ashford University, Grand Canyon University, and others -- have sought to reclassify their tax status so they can avoid scrutiny and regulation without fundamentally changing their governance structures.

Congressional Democrats had pressured NACIQI members to examine standards for the conversions as accreditors are one of several regulatory bodies that must approve the applications. 

"If nobody else is doing something, we need to figure out what we can do, if anything, to try to fix this — improve this situation," said John Etchemendy, a former Stanford University provost and NACIQI committee member. "If nothing else, its a consumer protection issue. It's a transparency issue. It's an integrity issue." 

Etchemendy though said the committee was not prepared to figure out what steps to take this week and proposed a subcommittee to make possible recommendations on the matter.