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The Higher Education Act (HEA): Trump’s chance for conservative reform

(John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye via AP)

(John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye via AP)

The 2016 elections have provided President Trump and Congress with a rare opportunity to drastically reform higher education in America with policy changes that benefit students, not liberal administrators.

As Congress gets ready to update the Higher Education Act (HEA), which dictates all of the rules and regulations for U.S. colleges and universities, conservative academics are calling for major reforms to the policy in a number of key areas that have been hijacked by liberal administrators.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has published a list of suggested reforms to improve the HEA, which they claim will “remove barriers to learning that have gained a foothold in American higher education, including rampant politicization of the curriculum and the extra-curriculum.”

Included among the many proposals are establishing basic requirements that colleges and universities must follow in order to qualify for financial aid. Some of these new rules would require schools to “verify that they are not a ‘sanctuary campus,’” and “file a pledge with the Department of Education to uphold student speech and association.”

Additionally, the group also suggested requiring colleges to “Reduce the proportion of college administrators to faculty members to a proportion to be determined,” in order to receive financial aid loans from the government. This is significant in that it has the potential to drastically reduce rising university tuition costs that are due to the hiring of useless administrators. Since 1970, the number of paid administrators in U.S. public universities increased by a whopping 235 percent, compared to only a 50 percent increases of faculty and students.

Additionally, colleges and universities would also become liable for 30 percent of the student loans accumulated by a student, if he or she fails to graduate a four-year program within eight years, or a two-year program within five years. This will encourage universities to be more diligent in considering whether or not to increase their tuition, because they will potentially be responsible for a significant portion of that debt should a student drop out due to rising tuition costs.

The group also proposes changes to the existing Title IX regulations concerning campus investigations of sexual assault. The legislation suggests requiring colleges and universities to “set up judicial procedures for students and faculty with robust due process, the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right to know what one is charged with, the right to face one’s accuser, and the right at all times to speak publicly about any case.” An additional change to the Title IX section would include the definition of “sex” as “biological, not mental or emotional, or dependent on an individual’s self-perception.”  

The NAS has also proposed new regulations on the disclosure of speaker fees that universities routinely use to favor Democrats and liberal causes. Instead of allowing schools to conceal money that they pay to certain speakers, the group suggests that “all colleges and universities that are recipients of federal funding are required to disclose such fees and emoluments in excess of $20,000.”

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