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  • Can the Republicans do anything about improving our higher education system?
  • Posted By:
  • Jamie K
  • Posted On:
  • 08-Nov-2014
  • For the past decade, Republican’s conservatism has been a restraining force on Obama’s liberalism. With just two years to go for the next presidential election, it is time for Republicans to show voters that they can do much more than just be a check on our president’s overreach.

    One of the urgent practical problems they need to face now is our higher education system. Never has our education been a prominent feature of the conservative agenda. But now, there is but little choice for Republicans. They just need to focus on this raging issue.

    We all know that one of the major issues we face today is the skyrocketing college tuition cost. Constantly being adjusted for inflation over the past 30 years, our tuition costs have tripled.
    Many American families are going into massive debts even as education in a good private college has become extremely expensive. In the last ten years, sadly, the average earning of a college graduate has plummeted.

    Look around and you will see that many graduates are working in fields they never learnt anything about. This means, they are unable to find jobs in their field of specialization. As the alternative is unthinkable, most families in our country are forced to pay more for less. This is not all. The scenario is worse with many students dropping out of college being unable to face the financial burden.

    A large percentage of students take longer to complete their bachelor’s degrees. At least 59% students who enrolled for 2006 full-time degree programs completed their degrees after six years. Students are indeed bearing the brunt with lack of alternatives, growing debt, lower value and higher costs.

    Liberal policies of the Democrats included offering loan forgiveness and creating generous student-loan programs. This in turn has led to a risk of exacerbating bad incentives confronted by colleges and inflating tuition further.

    It is obvious that bad public policy has led to a large issue of which increasing costs are a symptom. We need to bring in a lot of discipline here. Our government must help students and parents find best value for money spent by sharing data.

    Approaches using new technologies and new entrants must be retained within the system through right accreditation rules and student aid dollar access. Schools must have enhanced stake in the future of their students. Towards this, they must be made to pay back a certain loan amount percentage on defaulting graduates.

    Reforms initiated by the conservatives must address the PLUS unlimited loans for graduate students and parent and place limits on them. This is the only way to improve incentives. There must be more flexibility in terms of credit hours. For this, states must be given more liberty to experiment with accreditation approaches.

    For lucrative employment opportunities that do not require a college degree, other skill-gaining paths must be identified. Conservatives should clear the route to these paths and also must create a seamless path towards apprenticeships and professional certificates.

    Last but not the least, all relevant data regarding degree values held by the Federal government must be readily made available to parents and students. These are the only measures that will light up a path to improve the quality of our higher education.


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