Higher Education

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Covering an education story today? Here’s the latest from the experts on the AEI education team.

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The higher education bubble is now bursting. Colleges are closing, college applications and graduate program enrollments are declining, universities are facing lawsuits challenging the verdicts of their kangaroo courts.

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Sanders (I-VT) uses a bullhorn to speak to supporters gathered outside a town-hall campaign stop at New England College in Concord, New Hampshire May 27, 2015. Reuters

Instead of making public college free for all students, policymakers should look to foster more entrepreneurship in higher education while giving all institutions a real stake in their students’ success.

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Andrew P. Kelly, director of AEI’s Center on Higher Education Reform, hosts a discussion of competency-based education (CBE) research, featuring the authors of three new CBE-focused papers and other higher education experts.

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Andrew Kelly testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions explaining that risk-sharing is designed to change institutional behavior by holding colleges accountable for student outcomes, not dictating specific changes from Washington.

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I’m here today to discuss how the federal government can give the colleges and universities it helps to finance a greater stake in student success and college affordability. Specifically, the question before us today is how a risk-sharing policy, where colleges would bear some financial responsibility for a portion of the federal loans that their students do not repay, might better align the incentives of colleges, students, and taxpayers.

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Graduates attend commencement at University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley

Although competency-based education (CBE) has made considerable inroads in higher education, strategies are needed to improve state, accreditor, and federal oversight of CBE programming.

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In cases where borrowers can conclusively prove that a college knowingly misled them using inaccurate data or false advertising, loan relief is a straightforward remedy. Policymakers can’t stop there, though. If an institution’s students cannot pay back their loans, the school should be on the hook to pay back a portion of the loan balance.

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Adults may not have a clear sense of the costs and benefits of further education. To the extent adults are foregoing college because they don’t recognize the costs and the benefits of these other options, it represents a lost opportunity for both individuals and for the economy.

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Americans see higher education as necessary, but too expensive and not well-suited to those with work and family commitments. Also, many adults without a degree do not aspire to a higher credential, but report being satisfied with their current level of education.

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At a time when Americans’ anxiety about the nation’s higher education system is at a peak, a debate focused largely on how much we spend would represent a missed opportunity to pursue fundamental, longer-term reforms.

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