October 12, 2020
When the Justice Department sued Yale University last week for considering race and ethnicity as one factor in its admissions policies, it was the latest example of the Trump administration pushing a conservative agenda by targeting colleges over issues like race and protests against conservative speakers on campuses.
And higher ed leaders worry that one of the impacts on colleges and universities should Trump be elected to a second term would be more of the same.
“I suspect what we’ll see is what we’ve seen over the past year — an increased focus on populism with attacks on ‘elites,’” said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations and a top lobbyist for colleges and universities. “More micromanagement through heavy-handed executive orders.”
However, in other areas, it’s less clear what a second term would bring.
Just months into the Trump administration’s first term, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved quickly to undo the Obama administration’s policies aimed primarily at for-profit colleges — one that that had made it easier for borrowers who had been defrauded to have their student loans forgiven, and another to prevent federal student aid from going to colleges where graduates couldn’t earn enough to repay their debts.
Borrower defense protections, gone. Gainful employment requirements, gone.
But with those policies already dismantled, higher education leaders say it’s unclear what policies affecting colleges and universities would next be high on the administration’s agenda.