Higher Education Reform

With the Higher Education Act (HEA) up for reauthorization this year, there has been great debate over improvements that need to be made and the extent of Congress’ responsibility to uphold a certain standard for institutes of higher education. As discussions continue, students have come up with a long list of grievances. However, the general consensus thus far has simply been this: something has got to change.
Students at the University of California, Irvine have been discussing their concerns about potentially drastic tuition increases beginning in 2015; this comes at the tail end of the UC tuition freeze that began in 2011. Even outside of the UC system, students across the nation have been voicing their opinions about how affordability is an issue that is increasingly becoming an even-greater burden. With the current student debt reaching over $1.2 trillion dollars, tuition hikes have become less about taking out more loans and more about finding alternatives to graduating with a four-year degree. According to Bloomberg, tuition and fees have increased by 1,120 percent from 1978 to 2012.
Being able to afford such high tuition rates itself has been a source of great stress for students, but many students have also noted that the quality of the education they are receiving is not equivalent to the large sums they are paying. Most universities are technologically behind the times and provide less than satisfactory services for their students. In 2012, state spending per full-time student hit a 25-year low.

Not only this, but even the most basic aspects of student life at institutes of higher education have been neglected. A prime example is the recent student protest seen at Colgate University in New York. Students are still fighting for diversity on their campuses, something that this country believed to have been addressed and remedied in the years of reform following the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education. Clearly, there is a great range of issues that have yet to be addressed in higher education institutions.
With such a bleak future ahead for higher education, it is crucial for students to voice their concerns and rally behind amending the Higher Education Act while it is up for reauthorization. It is also the responsibility of each qualified student to register, vote and make his or her contribution to the future of higher education in the United States. If you would like to register to vote, please visit www.uci.turbovote.org and register online.

Haruka Hatori is a first-year political science major. She can be reached at hhatori@uci.edu