Law and the Conundrum of Higher Education Quality
46 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 23, 2018
Although historically the federal government has been reluctant to assess the quality of the education offered by institutions of higher learning, the Department of Education under the Obama Administration quietly implemented a perspective on quality that focused on the financial outcome of a program of education for students. Those institutions that produce students who do not make progress on repayment of student loans or who default on such obligations are deemed low quality. The focus on the economic impact of higher education is not the only path forward; policymakers including regulators and courts could turn their attention to education inputs, as New York’s attorney general did in litigation against Trump University, rather than outputs. This Essay contends that the quiet acceptance in regulation and law of income as the best proxy of institutional quality is misguided and dangerous. The Essay warns that failure to grapple with the difficult question of quality of education threatens the quality of democracy.
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