Over the course of the past several years, we have developed accreditation criteria and processes for ensuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is part of each student’s educational experience.
ABET remains committed to the basic principles of advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility:
- We believe that understanding, embracing and prioritizing inclusion, diversity and equity in higher education is critical to competitiveness, innovation and our global pursuit of a more sustainable world.
- We believe that all components of modern society should recognize human equity as a fundamental human right. We must begin working collectively through STEM education to build a fair and better system that does not discriminate.
- Consistent with all aspects of our accreditation process, we respect all aspects of an academic institution’s mission.
Only together can we achieve real change by supporting our goal as an organization.
However, several state legislatures have recently proposed or passed laws restricting or prohibiting accrediting organizations from including DEI as part of the accreditation process. Although ABET’s criteria are not directly impacted by the current laws passed we are aware of the stress this has created and the potential for our criteria to be impacted by future legislation.
Despite this recent activity, we remain fully committed to advancing our DEI goals for higher education. As an organization focused on “making the world a better place,” ABET believes that we can only address the many complex challenges facing our society through a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment.
Our original plan was to implement DEI concepts into our criteria for academic programs undergoing reviews in the 2024-25 accreditation cycle (Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC)) and the 2025-26 cycle (Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)) in addition to current language in our Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) criteria. In preparation, we are conducting a “pilot” study of accreditation reviews that include DEI criteria in both the 2023–24 and the 2024–25 cycle. Forty institutions (185 programs) from six countries volunteered to participate in this study being conducted by the EAC. Participation in this pilot study is optional, and data gathered from the DEI portion of the reviews will be used for informational purposes only, and not as the basis of any accreditation decisions for these programs. (Additionally, any institution may exit the DEI elements of this pilot at any point during or prior to these reviews.)
We will continue to learn from these efforts while demonstrating our unwavering and unambiguous commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within ABET, its activities, its volunteer base, staff, operations and its accredited programs. Our approach, the standards we set and the quality we guarantee, inspires confidence in those who aim to build a better world — one that is safer, more efficient, more inclusive and more sustainable.
Meanwhile, to avoid potential conflicts with recent legislation and to ensure we are not placing any institution at legal risk, we are reexamining our original plan for full implementation of the DEI criteria. We expect a decision to be made by November 2023.