The President has decided that one of his sales pitches this year will involve encouraging more people to go to college, and as part of that, he’s calling for a close examination of college affordability. As the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports:
[The President] warned that colleges themselves need to do more to cut costs and not assume they can “just jack up tuition every single year.” Government “can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” said Mr. Obama.
“We should push colleges to do better,” said Mr. Obama, as he briefly touched on forthcoming proposals to overhaul the way billions of dollars in federal aid to colleges and students is awarded. “We should hold them accountable if they don’t.”
But surprisingly, given the fondness of many in academia for federal-level solutions, segments of the higher-ed community seem less than enthused:
While many higher-education leaders said they were grateful for the president’s attention, they were wary of many specifics: The American Council on Education’s Molly Corbett Broad raised concern that proposed changes to the aid formula it would “move decision-making in higher education from college campuses to Washington, D.C.”
The American Association of Community Colleges said a change to the formula would be welcome but worried about the “extraordinary difficulty” of developing measures of student outcomes in way that was fair to community colleges.
The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the largest private-college group, said the answer to the affordability problem “is not going to come from more federal controls on colleges or states.” The association’s president, David L. Warren, also criticized the idea of “telling families to judge the value of an education by the amountng young graduates earn in the first few years after they graduate,” one of the same arguments raised by the for-profit college industry over a controversial new regulation introduced last year, the gainful-employment rule.
Sterner attacks came from some university presidents, including across the country, including the University of Washington’s Michael K. Young, who invoked Jeremy Bentham’s famous “nonesense on stilts” invective in decrying the ideas as political theater, according to the Associated Press.
So, the feds are wise enough to control other industries (health care, financial institutions, light bulbs), but when it’s time for higher ed’s own ox to be gored, now it’s a cause for concern and nonsense on stilts? I’m pretty sure there’s a term for that in the lit business…
Oh yeah. Poetic justice?