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  • Washington Highlights

    Higher Education Community Responds to Reform Proposals

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    AAMC joined several joint letters from the higher education community in response to three staff white papers from Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on issues related to reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA): accreditation, risk sharing, and the collection of consumer information.

    A group of 28 education associations, including regional accreditors, sent an April 30 letter in response to the accreditation white paper that sought to “[i]mprove and enhance academic quality and student success at colleges and universities.” The letter emphasizes the importance of retaining a diverse, rigorous, peer reviewed, and non-governmental education accreditation system. The letter additionally notes a problematic trend of expanding accreditors’ roles of setting standards and ensuring academic quality to enforcement functions that should be the responsibility of the Department of Education.

    The AAMC jointly sponsors the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which accredits all U.S. allopathic medical schools.

    A similar group of 25 higher education associations sent an April 28 letter on the risk sharing proposal that sought to “[r]ealign and improve federal incentives so that colleges and universities have a stronger vested interest and more responsibility in reducing excessive student borrowing and prioritizing higher levels of student success and completion.”

    The comments offered in response express the belief that these proposals are predicated on the assumption that institutions need to be compelled to address and share the risk on these issues, while in fact, most already do so. Far from incentivizing positive behaviors, “this approach will instead penalize all students and institutions in an attempt to address the behaviors of a handful of bad actors.”

    Meanwhile, several members of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) sent an April 30 joint letter to Chairman Alexander, Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), House Education and Workforce Chair John Kline (R-Minn.), and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) on the “Department of Education’s state authorization regulation and its adverse impact across the health professions education spectrum.”

    The FASHP letter highlights the importance of out-of-state clinical training sites, which are struggling due to unintended consequences of state authorization, as the nation faces health professions workforce shortages.