Marco Rubio calls for US higher education overhaul

Republican presidential hopeful wants radical reform of university system

July 7, 2015

Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has called for a “holistic overhaul” to higher education, bringing in low-cost providers and breaking the existing “cartel” of colleges and universities.

Mr Rubio, a US senator for Florida, made higher education one of the focuses of his first major speech on domestic policy, delivered in Chicago today.

He also pitched an idea for “investors” to pay the tuition fees of students in return for a share of their earnings after graduation.

“The lesson of history is clear: to empower today’s workers, we must equip them with today’s skills,” he said. “And to do that, we need our higher education system to innovate at the same rate as our economy.”

Mr Rubio warned that despite employers reporting a lack of skills among graduates, “we still tell students that to get a degree, they have to spend four years on a campus; tens of thousands of dollars on tuition, books, room, board; and hundreds of hours in a classroom, often learning subjects that aren’t relevant to the modern economy”.

He added: “We do not need timid tweaks to the old system; we need a holistic overhaul – we need to change how we provide degrees, how those degrees are accessed, how much that access costs, how those costs are paid, and even how those payments are determined.”

And he continued: “As president, I will begin with a powerful but simple reform. Our higher education system is controlled by what amounts to a cartel of existing colleges and universities, which use their power over the accreditation process to block innovative, low-cost competitors from entering the market.

“Within my first 100 days, I will bust this cartel by establishing a new accreditation process that welcomes low-cost, innovative providers. This would expose higher education to the market forces of choice and competition, which would prompt a revolution driven by the needs of students – just as the needs of consumers drive the progress of every other industry in our economy.”

Mr Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants who graduated from the University of Florida before studying law at the University of Miami, also said that he would give students the ability to “choose the right degree at the right price from the right institution for them. I’ve proposed an idea called the ‘Student Right to Know Before You Go Act’, which requires institutions to tell students how much they can expect to earn with a given degree before they take out the loans to pay for it.”

He also stated that he would make “student loans more manageable by making income-based repayment automatic for all graduates, so the more they make, the faster they pay back their loans; and the less they make, the less strain their loans cause”.

And Mr Rubio said that he had “proposed an idea called Student Investment Plans, which would let students partner with investors who would pay their tuition in return for a percentage of their earnings for a few years after graduation. It may result in a profit for the investor or it may not – but unlike with loans, none of the risk lies with the student.”

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

"which use their power over the accreditation process to block innovative, low-cost competitors from entering the market." Sounds like he wants to do away with any sort of standards to allow any charlatan to run an institution. Also, how does he expect colleges will react to being asked about salary after graduation- the 'bad boys' will game the system to put the maximum gloss on things.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Lecturer in Business and Management

De Montfort University

Reader in International Development

University Of Wolverhampton

School and College Engagement Officer

University Of Chichester

Pro Vice-Chancellor

Cranfield University

Professor of Business and Management

De Montfort University
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes