ERIC Number: ED555552
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct-6
Reference Count: N/A
Untapped Potential: Making the Higher Education Market Work for Students and Taxpayers
Kelly, Andrew P.; James, Kevin J.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
American universities continue to top international rankings and to attract the world's best students and faculty, leading policymakers and the public to assume the US higher education system is delivering top-notch educational value to its students. Recently, however, significant cracks have emerged in this facade of excellence. Lackluster graduation rates, rising delinquency and default rates on student loans, and poor results on measures of student learning have raised alarm bells about the return on federal investments in student financial aid. In response, reformers have increasingly questioned the federal approach to ensuring that taxpayer dollars flow to quality institutions. Decades ago, policymakers built a student financial aid (quality-assurance) system around two pillars: (1) consumer choice; and (2) hands-off regulation that relies largely on higher education accreditation. Unfortunately, flawed assumptions about how these mechanisms ought to operate have never been updated, leading to a status quo of increasing costs, subpar outcomes, and lack of innovation. In this paper--the first in a series of papers that will examine higher education quality assurance from a number of perspectives--the authors argue that policymakers should rethink the higher education system's building blocks in a way that protects consumers and taxpayers while maximizing educational opportunity. The authors advocate reforms in three specific areas: (1) Modernize, but Don't Expand, the Direct Federal Oversight Role; (2) Delegate Responsibility, but to New Authorizers; and (3) Expand and Improve Market Accountability.
Descriptors: Educational Change, Postsecondary Education, Educational Quality, Educational Policy, Policy Formation, Accountability, Labor Market, Educational Innovation, Federal Government, Government Role, Accreditation (Institutions), Quality Assurance, Federal Regulation, Commercialization, Politics of Education
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-862-5800; Fax: 202-862-7177; Web site: http://www.aei.org
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research