‘The Status Quo Is Not Working’

Tampa, Fla.— Republican delegates here formally approved on Tuesday a party platform that outlines several policy goals affecting higher education, including calls for expanding alternatives to traditional colleges, increasing private-sector participation in student loans, and combating liberal bias at public institutions.

“The status quo is not working” when it comes to dealing with the rising cost of college, the document says, lending support to new learning systems that compete with traditional four-year colleges.

Those alternative programs include “community colleges and technical institutions, private training schools, online universities, life-long learning, and work-based learning in the private sector.”

In addition, students and their families ought to be armed with better information about colleges—such as degree-completion rates, loan-repayment rates, and future earnings—to make choices about their higher education, the document says.

The platform says that “federal student aid is on an unsustainable path” and appears to support an end to the federal direct-loan program.

“The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans,” the document says. “However, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students.”

That return to a bank-based lending program, which Congress ended in 2010, is also a component of Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s education plan. Both Mr. Romney’s education position paper and the Republican platform call for increased private-sector participation in financing higher education.

Republicans also expressed concern about a liberal “ideological bias” that is “deeply entrenched within the current university system.”

At public institutions, trustees “have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination,” the platform says. It urges state officials to “ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”

In 2008, the Republican platform included similar language that decried the “leftist dogmatism that dominates” many college campuses.

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