The President’s ideas on higher education reform ignore the real source of the sector’s woes: a non-profit structure that encourages schools to compete based on reputation rather than teaching quality, which drives up costs. Accreditation policies and government subsidies protect that set-up from disruption by low-cost alternatives. Conn Carroll reports on a story that highlights how that works:
Now living in Warren, Ohio, with a son of his own, [Keion] Stella wanted to improve his own life and his son’s opportunities. But as a single parent with a full-time job, his options were limited.
But then along came Ivy Bridge of Tiffin University, an online community college partnered with the traditional four-year institution Tiffin University and designed to help traditionally underserved students like Stella access higher education.
A new model for higher education, Ivy Bridge made Stella’s academic success more likely by providing both intensive one-on-one support and seamless transfer to over 150 traditional four-year institutions, including Arizona State, George Mason University, and the affiliated Tiffin University.
Stella completed his associate’s degree this May and is scheduled to begin Tiffin this January. He was so satisfied with the program that he convinced his ex-wife, one of his brothers, and two of his colleagues to sign up.
But none of them will be getting the same support and access to automatic transfers that Stella did. That is because the government-empowered bureaucrats who control Tiffin’s accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission, gave Tiffin a choice: either shut down Ivy Bridge entirely, or your own accreditation will be at risk. Tiffin chose to shut down Ivy Bridge. [Washington Examiner, August 25]
As we noted last week [InsiderOnline.org, August 23], discounting student loan rates for students attending colleges that do well on a federal college scorecard, as the President has proposed, simply gives the higher education lobby another way to try to rig the rules in order to prevent competition from new delivery models.