Goldie Blumenstyk recently published a very nice description of the accreditation issues that led to the shut down of the generally acclaimed for-profit/nonprofit partnership of Altius Education and Tiffin College. As Blumenstyk points out, there are critics who feel that this demonstrates that the accreditation system is broken, and others who say that it has done what it was designed to do. It may be that both positions are correct, as I shall discuss in this post.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have connections to both parties. I was on the advisory board of Altius until it closed down recently, and Sylvia Manning, President of the HLC (which challenged the partnership), was my Executive Vice Provost at USC for several years and remains a good friend. I have no interest in getting into a discussion of the merits of the decision of HLC, but rather would like to put it into a larger context of the strengths and limitations of the accreditation system.