NAICU Washington Update

Senate Hearing Focuses on Innovations in Course and Credit Delivery

August 06, 2015

In its seventh hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee focused on “Exploring Barriers and Opportunities within Innovation.”

The July 22 hearing focused primarily on innovative ways that colleges and universities can offer courses and credits to American students. The witnesses agreed that the current modalities of delivering higher education instruction are too rigid, and efforts should be undertaken at the federal level to allow more institutional innovation in order to meet the demands of the higher education marketplace. However, witnesses also urged caution in opening the Title IV floodgates to programs of low or unproven quality that could potentially harm students and taxpayers.

Senators on the HELP Committee expressed support for lowering statutory and regulatory barriers to innovation, but also questioned the wisdom of promoting unproven or untested policies. Many legislators were vocal about using the federal government as a tool to lower college costs, while others expressed excitement about using the upcoming HEA reauthorization to continue these discussions.

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