Accountabililty in Higher Education

Accountabililty in Higher Education

October 1, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


Accountability in higher education has been
an increasingly significant national issue over the past decade or more, spurred by rising
college costs, disappointing retention and graduation rates, employer concerns that graduates
do not have the knowledge and skills expected in the workplace, and questions about the
learning and value that higher education provides to students. Society is reexamining the relative value
of a college education. There is skepticism because a college or university degree no
longer assures a job in the desired field. There is also evidence that the importance
of higher education has been reduced in the scale of state and national priorities as
policymakers question expenditures for this purpose. In fact, we have seen states cut
funding for higher education in times of crises. The public, however, still regards higher
education as a major instrument for improving quality of life and for preserving the essential
features of the kind of society it wants to have and clearly feels it deserves. Higher
education, in turn, is being asked to move more diligently and sensitively toward a solution
to the nation’s challenges and better serve the interests of society more effectively. Accountability is being demanded by the myriad
stakeholders in higher education… Policymakers, educational leaders, administrators, parents,
students, employers, legislators, professional associations, accrediting agencies, and many
other stakeholders all have important contributions to make to a state’s accountability process.
However, they lack shared concepts, shared experiences, and shared perspectives. To remedy
this problem, which has received increasing attention at the state, national, and international
levels, policy makers and higher education leaders need to determine what interests are
not well served by allowing market forces to operate freely in higher education how
are we preventing the consumer, the student, from accessing. With a stream of financial resources for higher
education following the student rather than the institution, legislatures have developed
a new level of sophistication about learning, and regulatory or coordinating agencies have
had to revamp their approaches to financial aid, program approval, and assessment. To
adequately protect consumer (student) interests, rigorous measures have been implemented in
several states. Some states have eliminated agencies which formerly regulated higher education
causing much confusion. Instituting a responsive and transparent system
for all stakeholders depends upon the vision, capacity to change, and commitment to move
forward in several ways: One, state policy makers need to provide institutions
of higher education with the flexibility needed to function more efficiently while supplying
clear performance expectations for articulated state priority areas. Two, students need to take more responsibility and accountability
for achieving understanding and mastery. And three, higher education, both internally
and externally, must provide transparent data and information relating to the performance
of each institution. Taking the examples outside of U.S. higher education, in one example of accountability in international
higher education, the issue of transparency and accountability in education in Nigeria
has taken the front burner in recent times as the goals of education at all levels are
not being achieved. The products of the Nigerian education system are falling short of the
expectations by the society. Consequently, the different stakeholders want to know who
should be held responsible for this downward trend. The main concern of the stakeholders is the problem of who to hold accountable
for fund disbursement and execution of educational programs. The second concern is the degree
of transparency in financial dealings with a view to check irregularity and ultimately
enhance efficiency. While these concerns differ slightly from
those in US-based higher education, the strong call for accountability has led us down a
path of scorecards and other measures designed to assist the public in choosing the right
college – and the best college – as determined by measures deemed important by our federal
government.