Notes from the President

Notes from the President:

WICHE can serve as a resource for understanding final
federal regulations on accreditation, state authorization

Dr. Demarée Michelau
Demarée Michelau
WICHE president

Many of us in higher education are quite familiar with the postsecondary oversight structure known as the “triad”: the system composed of states, accrediting agencies, and the federal government that oversees and holds postsecondary institutions accountable to federal and state requirements, as well as peer-developed standards of quality. Integral to this arrangement is the notion that all three entities of the triad depend on each other for their mutual success, and each must always be sure to hold up their end of the bargain.

On Nov. 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations covering accreditation and the state authorization of online education providers. And soon after, Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, spoke at the November WICHE Commission meeting, providing additional context and a summary of the regulations. The session highlighted some significant changes coming our way that we need to be following as states, institutions, and accreditors work to implement the new rules.

For instance, the elimination of the concept of regional accreditation is garnering a lot of attention, and rightfully so. This leads to many questions, but from WICHE’s perspective, one of the biggest questions of all is what does this change mean for states, including how it impacts their role in the triad and what statutory or other policy changes should states be considering in response to this new approach to accreditation? We’re in the early stages, but WICHE is prepared to assist states in sorting out the implications and to assist in implementation when possible.

Through its Frontiers Blog, WCET is a great resource for information about how the final regulations will impact state authorization, and W-SARA staff are available to assist the state portal entities with any questions.

At WICHE, we are keenly aware that students (knowingly or not) rely on states to protect them. And through an effective triad states ensure quality and accountability of our postsecondary institutions, so WICHE stands ready to ensure that the state continues to be a strong and active partner. There is more information to come from the Department through webinars and sessions at the Federal Student Aid Conference, and we’ll continue to serve as a resource for the West in the coming months.