The report by the Education Commission of the States analyzes the current higher education regulatory environment as the scope of higher education changes beyond the role originally intended by regulators. What is the role of state authorization in the regulatory “triad” of states, accrediting agencies, and the federal government? This paper looks at the relationship between authorization and accreditation and how various state approaches are changing. It looks at the history and evolution of state regulated higher education and examines how this regulatory framework attempts to grow to encompass the changing role and missions of institutions.
Drawing on this research, the report recommends a number of new arrangements between state authorization entities and the regulatory triad. Amongst the proposals are the development of coordinated approaches to state authorization and the development of a larger research agenda on state authorization. These proposals are an effort to improve institutional oversight and to imagine and shape the 21st century educational environment.