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Ness, Baser, and Dean Produce Foundational Work on Authorization

SHEEO cover

Professor Erik Ness, PhD candidate Sean Baser, and PhD student Matt Dean compiled a landmark survey of higher education authorization practices across the United States. The authors describe the purpose of the report, sponsored by the State Higher Education Officers Association and Arnold Ventures, as "offer[ing] a deeper understanding of the state authorization landscape and process."

The report, State Authorization Landscape and Process: An Inventory, Classification, and Analysis, is an extensive review that standardizes disparate information and describes how every state and the District of Columbia reviews initial requests and credentials postsecondary institutions.

Map of authorizationThis foundational work completed by the authors simplifies complicated approaches in an accessible manner. The authors hope it will "generate innovative empirical research regarding state authorization processes and policies" that can inform and guide researchers and policymakers as they consider hallmarks of quality in the establishment of postsecondary institutions.

The research was based on two initial questions: how do states authorize? And what patterns are present among the approaches?

To answer these queries, the team pulled from a variety of federal and states sources, including the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Census, IPEDS, National Conference of State Legislatures, regional higher education compacts, agency websites, administrative rules, regulations, and state laws.

In addition to presenting the postsecondary authorization landscape in the United States, the authors offered three recommendations. Ness, Baser, and Dean noted that more integration among authorization, accreditation, and federal government agencies to promote common expectations, requirements, and reporting standards. They encouraged better alignment between authorization processes and state objectives and context. Finally, they urged all parties to improve transparency of their processes.

The full report is available from SHEEO at:

Read overview in ACE’s Higher Ed Today:

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Graduate Coordinator and Professor of Higher Education

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