WASHINGTON -- These have not been times of peace, love and understanding between the federal government and higher education accreditors. For several years now, spanning two presidential administrations, the agencies charged with assuring that colleges meet an acceptable level of quality have felt buffeted by shifting, escalating and, in their view, sometimes inappropriate demands from federal policy makers.
The body was tipped off to the existence of a Web site for an organization with the same name, with a British Web domain and a Cyprus address, that claims to be “the leading global membership organization for the open and distance education community.”
To a cash-strapped public university, the promise of hundreds of new international applicants each year, paying full out-of-state tuition and spreading the institution’s name around the world, might be too good to pass up.
Accrediting agencies are facing significant outside pressure over their independence and performance, raising questions in some quarters about the viability of education's system of institutional peer review. But one of the country's six regional accreditors of colleges is facing a threat from within, in the form of a nasty internal battle with its parent organization.