By Paul Fain
The U.S. Department of Education today announced an experimental pathway to federal aid for partnerships between colleges and nontraditional providers, including ones that run skills boot camps or offer unaccredited online courses.
As part of the long-awaited project, the department will waive a ban on colleges outsourcing more than half of their course content and instruction to a nonaccredited entity. The feds have that authority under the experimental-sites initiative, which allows for flexibility in testing the disbursement of financial aid.
The experiment will be limited in scope, department officials said. They plan to accept fewer than 10 applications from colleges and their partners. But the department said Tuesday that boot camps and MOOC providers are likely candidates for participation, as are short-term certificate programs and forms of corporate training.
“Some of these new models may provide more flexible and more affordable credentials and educational options than those offered by traditional higher [education] institutions, and are showing promise in preparing students with the training and education needed for better, in-demand jobs,” the department said in a written statement.
A key part of the experiment, which is dubbed the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program, is to try out new ways of ensuring academic quality in these nontraditional programs.
“Since these providers are not within the purview of traditional accrediting agencies,” the department said, “we have no generally accepted means of gauging their quality.”
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Education: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/14/education-department-will-experiment-aid-eligibility-boot-camps-and-moocs ]