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Alaska Senate takes step to hold University of Alaska System more accountable for accreditation

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 9:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Senate has moved to add an extra step of accountability for accredited education programs in the state.

The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 36 on Wednesday, which would require the UA Board of Regents to update the State Legislature on accredited programs around Alaska once every other year.

Education students at University of Alaska Anchorage can still receive their degrees from the state, but those are through accredited programs at University of Alaska Fairbanks and Southeast. The Board of Regents ended UAA’s program in 2019 after it failed to maintain necessary accreditation standards.

“We expect it will not happen again,” said Paul Layer, a vice-president with the University of Alaska System.

He admitted the system did not properly monitor the education program at UAA at that time. But things have improved since then.

“We have been providing reports to the board, providing those details,” Layer said. “We do have that legwork done for the most part, and we’ll be able to provide to the board, the legislature, what they’re looking for.”

Supporters of the bill say it’s not a power grab by state lawmakers.

“Rather to insure that the university pays attention to it, the Board of Regents pays attention to it and is very careful about the potential loss of accreditation,” said Rules Chairman Senator Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. “It’s a way for them to be assured we are keeping an eye on our accreditations.”

Senate Bill 36 now goes the State House of Representatives.

The state university system says no other programs at its campuses are in jeopardy of losing their accreditation.

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