Marco Rubio, a sure bet to seek the Republican nod for President in 2016, is adding a significant higher ed reform plank to his campaign.His interest in the subject actually dates back to at least two years ago, when he co-sponsored (with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden) the Student’s Right to Know Before You Go Act. The bill aims to make data on graduation rates, transfer rates, average graduate salary, and future employment for every college program publicly available to policymakers, parents, and students. Versions of the bill have been kicking around Washington since 2012, but Rubio has renewed his push for the bill in recent months, joining with his co-sponsor last week to stump for the bill in an op-ed at Inside Higher Ed:
With so many in the higher education community bemoaning the lack of quality data, and clear solutions forward on how to attain better data, why hasn’t it happened? […]There’s a fear that students and families will vote with their pocketbooks and choose different schools that better meet their needs. The abundance of inaccurate and incomplete data provides institutional leaders with a line of defense: so long as such data are the norm upon which they are ranked and rated, they can defend themselves on the basis of flawed methodology.
This week Rubio devoted time to the proposal in one of his biggest policy speeches of the year. He mentioned a few other reform proposals as well, including a plan to allow investors to pay students’ tuition for a cut of future earnings and a measure to increase the use of income-based repayment plans for college loans.As Marco Rubio and other fellow Republicans like Mike Lee begin to stake out positions on higher ed reform, their colleagues across the aisle may follow suit.