Accountability for college access and student outcomes is essential to achieve equity.

Institutional priorities and state investments should be aligned with state and system-level goals, ensuring progress by transparently tracking and reporting college and career data. An equitable funding formula should ensure that public universities are held accountable to enroll student populations that reflect the diversity of the state, and provide the support students need to persist and complete college.

While all institutions should be held accountable for advancing student success, that doesn’t mean all sectors and actors should be blindly regulated as one. Though for-profit colleges claim to increase college access, they are driven by profit motives, which if unchecked can leave students with unmanageable debt. This is because for-profit colleges tend to take advantage of inequitable access to four-year institutions, leading them to target students who often have the least ability to afford higher education. This is particularly problematic because on average, for-profit colleges cost more than their public or private nonprofit counterparts despite little evidence of increasing earnings and employment prospects for graduates.

The state must hold agencies and institutions accountable for equitably serving students, while protecting Illinoisans from companies that are using the promise of higher education to saddle students with unmanageable bills and debt.

Recommendations To Improve Accountability In Illinois’ Higher Education System

Accountability starts with thorough, public, longitudinal data reporting. The state must use this data to track progress on state goals and hold institutions accountable for advancing equitable student access and success. The state should also leverage data to boldly protect students at the points where they are in danger of being exploited by profit-seeking companies.

Protecting students might mean informing students about the college, debt, and career outcomes that they can expect from specific institutions, removing state subsidies from for-profit institutions, and using state levers to regulate for-profit colleges. Accountability measures not only help protect students, they instill faith in the state’s higher education systems, driving more students to enroll in Illinois colleges and universities.

Strategies to improve accountability

  1. Improve Data Transparency & Reporting
  2. Strengthen Accountability Mechanisms
  3. Regulate the For-Profit Sector

To hear more about how PCC is working to improve system and institutional accountability, sign up for the Policy Newsletter below.

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