- The Online Learning Consortium, the University of Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies have joined together to release a common set of guiding principles for Congress as it considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
- According to eCampus News, the groups are pushing for fairness in access to federal financial aid for distance learners and those learning via innovative methods like competency-based education, for the authorization of innovation in the HEA itself as well as flexibility for the Department of Education to waive rules on behalf of experimentation, and a narrow approach to new accountability requirements so as not to overburden institutions.
- These guiding principles are meant to help Congress bring the Higher Education Act into the 21st century, taking into account the technologies and the student demographics that are a reality today.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 85% of post-secondary students today are “non-traditional.” One-quarter of all students in the United States are taking at least one online course, and nearly 63% of U.S. colleges offered fully online degree programs in 2012, a number that almost doubled in a decade. The guiding principles encourage Congress to move away from laws that were written and designed for a different student population and a different higher education landscape.
Congress came together to decide on a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015 but now, in an election year, which historically has not been a time for sweeping legislation, it is an open question whether Congress will be able to approve a new HEA.