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Government Regulations

The challenges for executives operating state-wide higher education Systems and the flagship research universities within those Systems have grown more baffling with each passing year. From UMass and UNC to LSU, Wisconsin, and Oregon, we hear regularly about frustrated and embroiled leadership.

Universities, research institutions, academics and scientists have increasingly been under the bright light scrutiny of the legal system. While not unprecedented for courts and litigators to pull questions of science and research into the courtroom, public debates and high stakes litigation have recently forced some academics and scientists to center stage.

From the perspective of a retired university president, the expressions of concern from most of America’s higher education leaders about President Obama’s proposed “Plan to Make College More Affordable” are a lot like looking a gift horse in the mouth. My former colleagues are portraying the plan as another potential serious intrusion on the historic autonomy of America’s colleges and universities.

More than 165 college and university presidents have asked President Obama and Congress to help close the “innovation deficit.” In an open letter coordinated by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the presidents urge them not to cut additional research and education discretionary spending. By coining the phrase “innovation deficit,” they hope to spark national and local conversations.

Tom Keppple

If a college freshman stepped onto a campus where it was obvious that the administration had spent months eviscerating each other over petty slights instead of balancing the budget—or refusing to name a dean because a faction of the faculty resent his work on committees—the student would undoubtedly run screaming into the night looking for the fastest way out of there.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, with students and teachers behind him, gestures during a news conference after voting Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in Oakland, Calif. The governor talked about his support for Proposition 30 that will increase funding for schools and public safety. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

While voters across the nation were glued to their screens last night counting electoral votes, the higher education community was holding its breath awaiting the answers on a number of important ballot initiatives, proving this year’s election was truly about more than blue and red for higher ed.

financial aid

Complying with the growing and increasingly complex Title IV federal student aid regulations is an ongoing challenge for every campus that administers federal student aid. Performing a word count of student aid regulations in 2000 and 2010 reveals a 40 percent increase over that decade. A recent survey of financial aid administrators shows that increasing regulatory and compliance requirements are causing resource shortages in many financial aid offices.

The South Carolina Higher Education Efficiency and Administrative Policies Act, signed into law on August 3 by Gov. Nikki Haley, is a big step for transparency in South Carolina's public institutions. The twofold law requires them to post all purchasing transactions online and eliminates portions of the timely and costly process for having new facilities or major purchases approved.

The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), passed in May 2010 as part of the Healthcare Reform Act, was an attempt to rein in the student loan industry and save money by taking private lenders out of the equation. But a year later, educators, parents, and legislators are asking, is the program delivering on its goals?

Republicans and Democrats agree: The projected cost of the Pell Grant program is unsustainable. Now policymakers are looking at the best ways to reduce costs.