2012 GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has had to face days of questions regarding his quip that President Obama is a “snob” for wanting all Americans to have some sort of higher education, forcing Santorum to lay out his thoughts on higher education policy. But where does Mitt Romney, who won both the Arizona and Michigan GOP presidential primaries last night, stand when it comes to higher education? As Inside Higher Ed reported, so far, it’s really hard to tell:
Although President Obama has promoted a push for college affordability as a plank of his 2012 re-election platform since January, education issues of all kinds — particularly those facing colleges and universities — have been largely absent from the campaign for the Republican nomination…Romney, though, emphasizes his business experience and generally steers clear of criticisms of higher education. Education is not even mentioned on his campaign website’s list of “issues,” where several regions of the world get their own position papers; a section on “human capital” includes a brief mention of job training at community colleges, but nothing on student loans, Pell Grants or other issues important to colleges and universities.
However, the one idea Romney has said that he approves of is more participation in the higher education realm by for-profit colleges:
On the campaign trail, Romney has praised Full Sail University, a for-profit college with links to some of his campaign donors, but has not addressed the issues facing the for-profit sector, or the Obama administration’s increased regulation, in detail. In the interview in Ames in January, he said he likes the idea of competition from for-profit higher education providers. “Our institution of higher learning just keep passing on higher and higher costs,” he said. “They don’t recognize that they need to compete, that they need to keep their prices down.”
As we’ve noted time and again, the for-profit college sector leaves students buried in debt and with bleak job prospects. The schools depend almost exclusively on the federal government for revenue, while fighting against regulations aimed at ensuring that the education they’re providing at least somewhat measures up to the sky-high prices that they often charge. And this, evidently, is Romney’s only concrete position when it comes to higher education.