C-RAC Members Urge Additional Federal Relief for Higher Education Students, Institutions
The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) today submitted a letter to congressional leaders urging additional support in the next COVID Relief package to support quality postsecondary opportunities for students and bolster the nation’s higher education system.
In the letter, Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission and Chair of C-RAC, highlights the work accreditors have undertaken in the wake of the pandemic to ensure institutions continue to meet meaningful quality standards despite challenging circumstances.
“Collectively, we have increased monitoring institutions, developed protocols for remote and/or virtual reviews of institutions and have conducted surveys to better understand the issues facing colleges. We have also set clear expectations that institutions must gain approval through the regular accreditation process to offer distance education programs beyond the current flexibilities provided by the U.S. Department of Education. These efforts, combined with our continued engagement and interactions with institutional leaders from around the country, have provided us with a deeper understanding of the needs of colleges and universities as they prepare for the new academic year,” Dr. Wheelan writes.
Based on the insights gathered from accreditors’ continuous work with institutions, the letter identifies key opportunities for enhanced support from Congress, including:
Additional resources to meet students’ needs, mitigate the financial duress that institutions are facing as a result of the pandemic, allow institutions to safely offer in-person educational programs where possible, and support high-quality learning remote or hybrid learning opportunities. The letter endorses specific recommendations outlined by the American Council of Education.
Sufficient funding to help expand affordable broadband access and connectivity to all students, access that is critical to the delivery of high-quality distance education programs. As noted in the letter, “Broadband connectivity is an issue that affects students in rural as well as urban settings, and also is potentially particularly devastating to students with disabilities, from poor and underserved communities, and households with multiple learners trying to study simultaneously.”
To read the full letter, click here.