Lawmakers to target regulations facing colleges

A bipartisan quartet of senators on Monday announced the launch of a new task force to probe the regulatory burdens facing American colleges and universities.

The panel will ultimately offer a set of recommendations to streamline – or cut altogether – federal regulations and reporting requirements that are unnecessarily burdensome for the nation’s institutions of higher education, the lawmakers said.

“We need to regulate, not strangulate,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a founding member of the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) are also part of the push.

Vanderbilt University chancellor Nicholas Zeppos and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, will co-chair the task force, which also includes comprise 14 college and university presidents and higher education experts.

The regulations will follow an investigation into to the regulations now on the books, and the constraints they put on schools.

“Let's face it: the federal government has become one of the greatest obstacles to innovation in higher education,” said Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Education Committee.

“The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today is not the result of evil doers,” he said. “It is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations without anyone spending an equal amount of time weeding the garden first.”

The panel did not lay out a timeframe for the investigation.