It seems that for-profit colleges aren’t the only ones concerned with the heightened regulatory environment created by the Department of Education’s relentless advancement of stringent policy proposals and expanding federal mandates.

In a letter to Congress, the American Council on Education (ACE) – the leading lobby group for “traditional” schools – expressed its support for the bill, Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2637), which would “prevent future federal overreach in postsecondary academic affairs” and eliminate regulations adversely affecting colleges and universities, such as the college ratings system and a federalized teacher preparation program accountability system.

While ACE “fully recognizes” and agrees with the Department’s stated goals for “safeguarding public funds” and holding colleges “fully accountable to the taxpayers who provides those funds,” its president Mary Corbett Broad, on behalf of many of the most traditional higher education lobbying groups, writes:

However, in recent years the sheer volume, ineffectiveness and cost of the regulations and related actions promulgated or proposed by the Department of Education have far exceeded what might reasonably be required for these purposes.

She goes on to say:

Several of the regulations…fail to achieve their intended outcomes, yet impose significant costs and burdens on institutions…[that] have the potential to do considerable harm to many institutions and the students they serve.

If this sounds familiar, it is likely because it echoes many of our sentiments regarding the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment rule – aimed almost exclusively at for-profit colleges.

We, too, fully recognize and support the Department’s stated goal with GE – namely, to ensure that colleges offer quality educational programs that lead to gainful employment without excessive debt. However, as we have reiterated throughout this blog – and as similarly expressed by ACE – the rule does not advance the Department’s intended goal and instead would have a harmful impact on the students it seeks to protect (see here, here and here).

The fact that lobbyists from “traditional” colleges are pushing back on many of the Department’s proposed regulations is further proof not only of the widespread and adverse impact of the Department’s actions, but of the increasingly apparent truth that its approach to measuring the entire higher education landscape is a bit misguided.

For our thoughts on the Supporting Academic Through Regulatory Relief Act, please see here.

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