March 2, 2023
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) is a little-known but critically important committee for higher education accreditation in the U.S. NACIQI’s role is to advise the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to higher education accrediting agencies. Though not part of its mission, NACIQI has become an important barrier against an aggressive Democratic administration that has shown itself capable of utilizing executive power to enact costly and unpopular policies such as the cancellation of student loan debt.
NACIQI is integral to America’s higher education model because accrediting agencies, which recognize colleges and universities, are the gatekeepers to billions of dollars in taxpayer funds in the form of the Federal Student Aid program. NACIQI is part of the higher education triad, which consists of the federal government responsible for ensuring institutional compliance with federal student aid laws, the states which are responsible for consumer protections and licensure of institutions, and the accreditors that enforce institutional and academic quality standards. NACIQI’s role is to ensure accreditors are meeting their quality control standards, not to regulate them, and ultimately make recommendations to the Secretary if an accreditor should continue recognizing colleges and universities.
Recently, some members of NACIQI have expressed frustration regarding the statutory intent of the board and have pushed for NACIQI to have a greater role in enforcement. This would undermine the Board’s purpose and value as it relates to ensuring America’s higher education system remains free of nationalized control. Since the establishment of the G.I. Bill, American higher education accreditation has always been valued as a peer review process. The importance of peer evaluation allows experienced higher education community members to maintain quality standards and improve performance, which maintains the core academic values of higher education.
Peer review requires avoidance of bias, and a key component of NACIQI is for members to remain nonpartisan in advocating for the best interest of higher education accreditation, a process that ultimately safeguards students and is critical to protecting taxpayer money. This is also crucial to protect the peer review accreditation process from government overreach.
Many on NACIQI understand this important element of their role as advisors. The outgoing chairperson, Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., has often reaffirmed this during his two terms as chair, and has maintained focus on the mission and purpose of NACIQI.
While some increasingly advocate for a ministry style of higher education, which would transform NACIQI into an enforcement entity for big government supporters, the higher education triad protects the balance which has resulted in the quality oversight and academic independence that has helped ensure the American higher education system continues to be the envy of the free world.
Often overlooked and frequently undervalued, NACIQI members have a thankless job. I commend them for their work as higher education accreditation and administration experts, chosen for their experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment.
NACIQI’s role is not one of enforcement, and we should recognize and acknowledge those members who understand that their role is part of a larger system that enables our higher education model to remain free of big government control. To be criticized by veiled political activists demonstrates the lengths some will go to in hopes of achieving a political end.
Ensuring the independence and traditional role of NACIQI is paramount for our higher education system.