“We felt it was important to make a statement -- that education is a public good,” said Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

As a result, the commission included language describing how colleges must first serve the public -- rather than themselves or outside interests -- as part of its updated criteria for accreditation. The document lays out standards of quality that colleges must meet to earn accreditation or have it reaffirmed, which is required every 10 years.


The revised standards are getting an early test, as a commission review team last month recommended a sanction of probation for the University of Phoenix, the nation’s biggest university. According to a corporate filing from the Apollo Group, which is Phoenix’s holding company, a sentence in the public good section is what tripped up the university in its bid for reaccreditation.


That language reads: “The institution’s educational responsibilities take primacy over other purposes, such as generating financial returns for investors, contributing to a related or parent organization or supporting external interests.”

Via Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)