DeVos Seeks To Rewrite The Rules On Higher Ed

The U.S. Education Department is going back to the drawing board on some basic rules of higher education, including one concept that has been in place for 125 years.The goal? Unleash innovation to better serve students.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called for a “major shift” in how we provide higher education: “We have to give students a much wider venue of opportunity, starting in high school and middle school, to help guide them into a productive future.”

Critics, though, call this move giving free rein to bad actors.

“Basically what these regulations allow is for these institutions that care about nothing but profit to come in and screw students in the name of innovation,” says Amy Laitinen, who directs higher education policy at the left-leaning New America Foundation.

This week, the department officially announced that it is reopening “negotiated rule-making,” a public comment and deliberation process, in order to rewrite a long list of rules meant to define the value of a college education. Here is an overview of the proposals and what changes they might bring, with links to our previous coverage:

Accrediting agencies: Who watches the watchdogs?

A college must be accredited in order to receive federal funds. But it is independent agencies, not the government, that give that approval. They are the meat inspectors of the higher education world.

When accreditors don’t do their job, students can suffer. In 2016, the Obama administration withdrew recognition of one of these accreditation agencies, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which had certified both Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, two enormous for-profit colleges that collapsed in scandal.

DeVos reinstated ACICS earlier this year, despite her department’s own review finding that the agency failed to comply with 57 of 93 federal quality standards.

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