Higher education reform saw another bipartisan development this week, as a group of Democratic senators urged the federal government to pressure accrediting agencies. At the same time the Department of Education called for similar action. Once again we see Democrats pushing to change higher education.
The goal of that letter (signed by two dozen senators) is to get accreditors to crack down on badly performing colleges and universities. Performance here is defined as outcomes, such as “dropout, graduation, default, or forbearance rates”. The Congresspeople are especially concerned about “predatory” institutions.
The signatories also want accreditors to get tough, complaining that they’ve been too lenient:
A 2014 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that, from 2009 to 2014, only 1 percent of institutions lost their accredited status and a mere 8 percent were sanctioned.
Note, however, that the only examples of bad actors are for-profits. Could this indicate a political path forward for Democrats, getting tough on one segment of higher ed while leaving the rest (including voters and donors) unmolested? Or will the Democrats continue their post-recession, Obama-era drive to reform academia?