US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Senate Education Committee Members Announce Task Force to Review Higher Ed Regulations and Reporting Requirements

Task force of higher ed officials and experts will identify ways to reduce and streamline confusing or costly regulations

Monday, November 18, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

Task force of higher ed officials and experts will identify ways to reduce and streamline confusing or costly regulations

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 – Senate education committee Ranking Member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and members Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) today announced the formation of a task force to examine burdens on institutions of higher education.

The Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education will conduct a comprehensive review of federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting colleges and universities and make recommendations to reduce and streamline regulations, while protecting students, institutions and taxpayers.

Alexander said: “Let’s face it: the federal government has become one of the greatest obstacles to innovation in higher education. The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today is not the result of evil doers, it is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations without anyone spending an equal amount of time weeding the garden first. This task force will help Congress weed the garden.”

Mikulski said: “In order for America to out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world, we must first out-educate.  And part of out-educating is making sure that we are supporting our institutions of higher education - helping them be them as they work to educate our next generation. Over the years, I have heard concerns from these institutions regarding federal requirements that, while well-intentioned, often end up being duplicative and burdensome. I have committed to seeing what can be done. We need to regulate, not strangulate. As this Task Force works on a path forward, it will be well-served through the leadership of the University System of Maryland’s own Dr. William ‘Brit’ Kirwan, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.”  

Burr said: “The tidal wave of regulations and reporting requirements faced by colleges and universities today is stifling innovation and, worse, raising college tuition price tags as schools pass on these compliance costs to students.  This task force will assemble experts and stakeholders to help streamline regulations and reduce the unnecessary burdens on institutions of higher education.”

Bennet said: “We must create an environment where our colleges and universities are focused on doing what they do best, and that’s educating students to succeed in the 21st century economy. To do that, we must to take a step back and consider how the current requirements are helping or affecting that goal. This task force offers the opportunity to take a broad look at federal regulations and requirements in order to inform our reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. What we need is a system that makes sense for students and for colleges and universities.”

The task force is co-chaired by Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. It will comprise 14 college and university presidents and higher education experts. The American Council on Education will provide organizational assistance. 

In letters to request participation in the task force, the senators wrote: “Our higher education system remains the best in the world and is often credited for its breadth of choice and commitment to institutional autonomy. Over the past decade, however, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have  added more mandates, reporting requirements and regulations with which institutions must comply. This Task Force creates an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting colleges and universities and make recommendations to Congress and the Administration to streamline and reduce federal regulations, while at the same time maintaining student and taxpayer protections.”

Senator Alexander earlier this year discussed the creation of the task force with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin as a means to provide the HELP Committee and Chairman Harkin with information and recommendations as part of the ongoing hearings and discussions about the 10th reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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