Inside Higher Ed’s Paul Fain posted the results of a U.S. Department of Education experiment, “to open federal aid to alternative providers.” Conceived as a result of student debt concerns and a greater demand for higher education institutions to improve access and completion rates, the DOE has awarded eight applications that will free up federal aid for non-college training. Non-college training includes online course providers such as coding boot camps, etc. These alternative education providers would work in tandem with a traditional college and be monitored for academic quality by an independent third party.
These quality assurance agencies, according to U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, will “monitor and measure the outcomes, the quality and, ultimately, the value of these programs to students.” If successful, these kinds of programs could bring added pressure to bear on traditional accreditors to focus more of their time and energy on graduation rates and job placement. These quality assurance providers could possibly become accreditors in their own right and, according to Fain, “perhaps even those that serve as gatekeepers to federal aid.”
Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University hopes this project encourages innovative approaches to quality assurance and could lead to a “dramatic shift from inputs and ill-defined outcomes to well-defined claims for learning.” Such a change, he added, could help avoid “a lot of what has bedeviled the for-profit sector.”
Fain’s article looks at each of the applications awarded to these third party education providers, the quality assurance providers and the colleges they’ve partnered with. All of which are part of a project called Educational Quality Through Innovation Partnerships or EQUIP.
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