Carnegie Classifications poised for major changes

Indiana University will lead the revamp beginning in 2015

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced it will hand over the responsibility for producing its closely watched—and occasionally controversial—classification of colleges and universities to Indiana University (IU), Inside Higher Ed reports.

Until now, the foundation has released new classification assignments every five years. The system organizes higher education institutions into distinct categories, such as small rural community colleges or large research universities. The groupings are closely watched because they help inform a variety of other things, like college rankings and funding decisions by charitable foundations.

A new set of classifications is scheduled to be released in 2015, but this time, they will be compiled by IU's Center for Postsecondary Research

Officials say the move should provide more resources to accurately classify a quickly changing ecosystem of institutions, adding that they felt the older classification system had begun to fall behind changes in the marketplace. For example, many universities have launched three-year bachelor's degrees while many community colleges now offer four-year degrees. Gay Clyburn, associate vice president of public affairs at the foundation, says it "would be irresponsible [for the classifications] to not acknowledge and respond" to this rapid pace of change.

Partnerships with community colleges: Strategies to promote collaborations

Victor Borden, who will direct the project at IU, says he thinks the school will bring "fresh energy" to the classification system. Borden notes that the university has developed deep expertise in the higher education landscape through initiatives such the National Survey of Student Engagement, which is also run by the Center for Postsecondary Research.

Indiana's efforts are bolstered by a $500,000 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation. When the foundation agreed to fund the initiative, they specified that the new groupings should expand to include non-institutional providers of credentials—such as nonprofits—beginning in 2018 (Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, 10/9).

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