Trade Associations for the education industry | Standards Michigan

Trade Associations for the education industry

Every branch of a typical school district, college or university organization chart seems to have a non-profit trade association competing with other trade associations for membership, sponsor and donor dollars. Many of them claim "leadership"; some claim "international"; a few of them claim hegemony over all the others. Is this the strength of the education industry -- about 4 percent of US gross national product -- or its weakness?


Trade Associations for the education industry

April 15, 2018
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Is there any other industry with more non-profit

trade associations than the education industry?

The large number of education industry trade associations may well be the defining characteristic of an industry that is both a business and a culture.   Education professionals like to, well — “educate” — and that is likely part of the reason there are so many of them (apart from the incentives for “membership organizations” in the US tax code). None other than a largely non-profit industry could sustain this characteristic.  With this list we hope to enlighten understanding of the regulatory landscape where trade associations compete for membership revenue and the status as the “leader” and “opinion aggregator”.

Most education industry trade associations depend upon revenue from interest categories that effectively duplicate the interest categories already present on consensus standards developed according to Due process requirements for American National Standards:   The practical effect of this is to undermine the balance the user interest requires to justify participation in standards development; a condition seen in the voting blocs of almost all of the world’s standards developers.  It is a wicked problem* not the fault of accredited standards developers; more the fault of the user-interest.  The lack of end-user participation in the early stages of standards development resembles the central problem of participatory democracy — and one for which Standards Michigan is developing a solution.

We suggest that it is unwise for consensus standards developers — ANSI accredited, open-source or ad hoc peer-to-peer collaborations — to assume that any one of them can claim authority to speak for an entire industry with one voice.   The list below should support this claim.  National standards bodies, legislators and regulators need to be mindful of this fact.  The fragmentation of interests that we see in American society as a whole is conveyed into the education sector.   This characteristic presents challenges and opportunities.

AACC | American Association of Community Colleges

AACSB | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

AAC&U | American Association of Colleges and Universities

AASHE | Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

AAU | Amateur Athletic Union

AAU | American Association of Universities

ACCT | Association of Community College Trustees

ACE | American Council on Education

ACUI | Association of College Unions International

ACUPA | Association of College and University Policy Administrators

ACUTA | Association of College & University Technology Advancement (formerly Association of College & University Cable Television Administrators)

AAHC | Association of Academic Health Centers

ACHA | American College Health Association

AAMC | American Association of Medical Colleges

ACSP | Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning

ACUPCC | American College & University Presidents Climate Change Commitment (changed to SecondNature.ORG)

ADANDD | Association of Deans and Directors of  University Colleges and Undergraduate Studies 

ADEA | American Dental Education Association

AIR | American Institutes for Research

AERA | American Education Research Foundation

AAHHE | American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education

AHEAD | Association on Higher Education and Disability

APPA | Leadership in Education Facilities  (formerly the Association of Physical Plant Administrators)

APLU | Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities

AGB | Association of Governing Boards

AHECTA | Association of Higher Education Cable Television Administrators

ACUHO-i | Association of College & University Housing Officials International

ASHE | Academic Medical Centers

Association of Arts Administration Educators

Association for Event Management Education

AURP | Association of University Research Parks

AUREO | Association of University Real Estate Officials

AAUA | American Association of University Administrators

AUA | Association of University Architects

AUE | Association of University Engineers (UK)

AUTM | Association of University Technology Managers

CACUBO | Central Association of College and University Business Officers

Campus Parking and Transportation Association

CAPCSD | Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Carnegie Classification of Higher Education Institutions

CASE | Council for Advancement and Support of Education

CCCU | Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

Center for Campus Fire Safety

CGS | Council for Graduate Schools

CHEA | Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Clery Center for Security on Campus

CLSI | Clinical Laboratory Safety Institute (services for-profit research enterprises also)

COGR | Council on Government Relations

CUCU | College and University Recycling Coalition

CUR | Council on Undergraduate Research

CUPAHR | College and University Professional Association for Human Resources

CSHEMA | Campus Safety and Environmental Management Association

EACUBO | Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers

Education Commission of the States

Education Market Association


Educational Theater Association

EFC | Education Facilities Clearinghouse

Smith College Campus Center | Click on image

IACLEA | International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators

IFMA | International Facility Management Association (Has public sector membership)

ICBA | Independent College Bookstore Association

International School Theater Association

IAUP | International Association of University Presidents

International University Theatre Association

University of Utah Hospital

NACUA | National Association of College and University Attorneys

National Center for Campus Public Safety

National Association Of School Safety & Law Enforcement Officials

NACCU | National Association of Campus Card Users

NACDA | National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics

NBOA | National Business Officers Association

NACUFS | National Association of College & University Food Services

NACUBO | National Association of College and University Business Officers

NACS | National Association of College Stores

NAICU |National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

NCURA | National Council of University Research Administrators

NCAA | National Collegiate Athletic Association

NCCI | National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education

NCEF | National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities

NFMA | National Fleet Management Association (Membership includes colleges and universities)

NIRSA | National Intramural Recreational Sports Association

NAICU | National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

NAIA | National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

NIAAA | National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association

National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education | University of Virginia

NCBA | Northwest College Bookstore Association

NSTA | National School Transportation Association

The Pell Institute

SACS | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

SACUBO | Southern Association of College and University Business Officers

SI | The Simon Institute

SCUP | Society for College and University Planning

SSHEO | State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

Vanderbilt University

University Innovation Alliance

UNA | University Neighborhoods Association

University Resident Theater Association

URMIA | University Risk Management and Insurance Association

WACUBO | Western Association of College and University Business Officers

WHES | Washington Area Higher Education Secretariat


N.B. There are regional subdivisions of the organizations on the foregoing list



Last update: April 1, 2018


  • A “wicked problem” is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. The use of the term “wicked” here has come to denote resistance to resolution, rather than evil.  Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.


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