What the election results mean for higher education

President Obama’s reelection has important implications for higher education.

President Obama’s focuses on making college more affordable and accessible to students, improving college completion rates, and improving academic quality and value are expected to continue in the next four years, according to a new report that examines how the 2012 election results will affect higher education.

Particularly focused on fiscal and policy implications, “Higher Education and the 2012 Elections,” from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), breaks down federal and state election results, and highlights projected changes.

Since 2008, the Obama administration has focused regulatory efforts on increasing the number of secondary degree holders and returning the United States to first-in-world status regarding the number of individuals who hold a postsecondary degree.

“Generally, [the outlook] is positive, and we’ve been pleased with the president’s support of higher ed overall,” said Dan Hurley, director of State Relations and Policy Analysis at AASCU, and lead author of the report.

The Obama Administration has previously sought to address problems with fraudulent activity in federal student aid programs and for-profit colleges, among other things. AASCU researchers said they expect that the U.S. Department of Education will continue to focus on these agendas in the next term.

Similarly, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has, in the past, focused a series of hearings pertaining to for-profit sector fraud. Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is expected to continue these hearings with the help of newly-elected ranking member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who is set to replace Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. who is leaving the position due to Republican Caucus term-limit Senate rules.

“The No. 1 factoid that I’ve been throwing out is the fact that come January 2013, more than half of all state legislators in this country will have been in office for two years or less, and that is a fascinating statistic with significant implications,” said Hurley. “The institutional memory of state legislators is low. For higher ed and every other interest group, they’re going to have to redouble their efforts to convey their perspective.”

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