California, long a haven for substandard colleges, is applying more pressure to diploma mills. Two bills, opening the avenue for stricter educational standards, will go into effect in 1982. Religious schools will not be affected by the tightened standards, however, because of church-and-state separation considerations.
The recently passed bills will amend the Private Postsecondary Education Act of 1977 by initiating a council that will develop tougher standards for private educational insitutions. At present, a school is considered “authorized” by the state when it can show at least $50,000 of assets in property and equipment, and will agree to file annual affidavits that include such innocuous facts as the address of the school. This has allowed schools, including religious schools, to award advanced degrees for little work, and advertise themselves as “authorized.” (CT, May 29, p. 26).
The lax California requirements come under section 94310(c) of the present educational code. The newly impaneled council is to “develop explicit standards for the review and authorization” of schools under that section, but religious schools have been exempted. (There are a number of levels of “authorization” for schools. Religious schools seeking higher levels of authorization may do so but are not required.) They will fall under a newly created section, 94310(d), which basically will add only one requirement to what the theological schools had under the old 94310(c).
The theological schools will have to file a “full disclosure” affadvait, including such points as institutional objectives, curriculum, and tuition schedules. Another amendment will define the “instruction” that must be offered by institutions granting degrees (religious included), ...1
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