Will on the Hill: A Valuable Opportunity

2014 Issue 1
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Will on the Hill: A Valuable Opportunity 

As Congress and the Administration work toward reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, academic pharmacy can be a resource for advancing the quality of higher education

Determining the value of higher education is not an easy task. Issues such as accelerated degrees, competency-based education, grade-inflation, distance education, technology-assisted education, massive-open-online-courses, performance-based funding, college ratings and STEM must all be considered—what else can you add to the list?

Act Accordingly

With the value of higher education being a source of discussion across America and certainly within the United States Congress, how the list of issues above will be addressed in any resulting reauthorizing legislation remains uncertain. AACP has developed and shared an issue brief on education quality with congressional staff and joined other health professions education organizations in advocacy efforts around higher education issues.

So begin the discussions that will prepare the way for the eventual reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Last authorized in 2008 with the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (PL 110-315), the HEA was originally introduced and passed in 1965. The current authorization of the HEA expires in 2013.

The Act is divided into a number of titles—many of which are important or relevant to graduate and professional education programs within colleges and schools of pharmacy. These include Title IV, which includes the student financial assistance programs and the program integrity provisions.

Strong Foundations

It is important to remember that higher education, for all its perceived and real shortcomings, remains important as an opportunity for individual and national advancement. That opportunity established an inevitable tension between legislative and free-market approaches. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the HEA in 1965, he said, “I want to make it clear once and for all, here and now, so that all that can see can witness and all who can hear can hear, that the Federal Government—as long as I am President—intends to be a partner and not a boss in meeting our responsibilities to all the people. The Federal Government has neither the wish nor the power to dictate education.”

The issues influencing the current policy discussions around higher education are more complex than in 1965, but the need to participate and contribute remain the same. Ensuring the appropriate balance of legislation and free-market approaches will certainly take energy and evidence from academic pharmacy.

William G. Lang is Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AACP; wlang@aacp.org.

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