The coronavirus pandemic threatens America’s colleges and universities with a catastrophe. The higher education establishment wants the federal government to save them—but they want the money so they can continue to waste money on useless administrators, train students to hate America, and facilitate the extension of Chinese soft power into our country.
America’s students have suffered long enough from our predatory colleges and gone into debt to pay for hollow credentials. Hard-working students shouldn’t be made to suffer further because of the coronavirus pandemic. Besides, there’s enough good left in our colleges that they’re worth saving. But we shouldn’t support students or colleges with a blank check.
We should target our help to the neediest students—and our schools have to reform themselves.
The National Association of Scholars has just published Critical Care, which lists a series of reforms that America’s universities should undertake as a condition of receiving coronavirus bailout funds from the federal government. Our senators and representatives can use Critical Care as a guideline to marry generosity and high expectations toward our colleges and students.
Above all, regular bailout recipients must cut administrative overhead by 50%. Small colleges, with fewer than 1,000 students, must cut administrative overhead by 10%. The higher education establishment will fire professors wholesale and cut student aid to the bone before they voluntarily fire one administrator. Congress must insist that colleges slash administrative spending.
Bailout recipients also need to support the generation of students who have gone into debt-serfdom for the hollow credential of a B.A. Colleges taking taxpayer relief must establish student loan buyback programs and extend students’ new loans at low, capped interest rates. These colleges will also have to accept partial responsibility for student loan defaults. They must also cease to give college credit for remedial courses, which give students debt and no prospect of a good job.
Congress should tie bailout funds to real priorities, so colleges don’t divert them to hiring another Diversity Dean. Congress should reserve bailout money to provide payroll support for faculty and graduate students in practical disciplines critical to national security, such as emergency medicine, pulmonary disease, and virology. It should also reserve bailout money for apprenticeships and faculty payroll support in vocational education for vital careers such as medical assistant, laboratory technician, and police officer. Congress should also direct relief funds to community colleges, which provide the democratic backbone for America’s higher education.
America’s colleges and universities have drifted scandalously from the pluralistic search for truth toward narrow-minded “progressive” illiberalism, they hire their administrators and faculty from a tiny band of “social justice” zealots, and they wink their eyes at mob violence to enforce campus orthodoxy. Schools that receive bailout funds will need to guarantee student and faculty liberty. Congress should require all bailed-out colleges to protect intellectual freedom and due process. Congress should further require public universities to guarantee students’ and faculty’s First Amendment rights, as well as intellectual diversity and institutional neutrality. There’s no point giving money to colleges that have turned themselves into finishing schools for trust-fund antifa.
American universities have also drifted scandalously away from one of their core missions—to educate young Americans and to serve the American national interest. They must refocus on educating American students by limiting both the number of foreign students they accept and the amount of tuition they receive from foreign sources. They must cut off all connections with China, America’s great and hostile rival, above all by ending any connection with Confucius Institutes or the Thousand Talents Program. They must prohibit “sanctuary campus” policies, cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies, and cease to hire or admit illegal aliens. Colleges that receive bailout money must rededicate themselves to their civic mission.
America’s richest universities must pay their own way. The 100 wealthiest private colleges and universities, each of which has an endowment of more than $600 million, should not receive any bailout money from the federal government.
The National Association of Scholars offers Critical Care as a first word. We expect the vigorous free debates of the American public and American policymakers will improve it. But we strongly believe that any bailout of American higher education ought to possess conditions at least this rigorous.
The American people are generous to their schools. But they should only be generous to colleges and universities that are prudent stewards of their money, defenders of American national interests, and guarantors of liberty.
Critical Care outlines what our colleges and universities should do to deserve the taxpayer’s dime.
David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.
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