DC Digest - March 2, 2012
In Today's Issue:
- President Brodhead Urges Support for Research Programs, Student Aid, and International Education for FY13
- House Votes to Repeal Credit Hour and State Authorization Regulations
- Sponsors Pull Back Research Works Act
- Higher Ed Associations Urge HHS to Issue Final Regs on Student Health Insurance Coverage
PRESIDENT BRODHEAD URGES SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH PROGRAMS, STUDENT AID, AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION FOR FY13
President Brodhead sent letters to North Carolina Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr and Representative David Price this week urging their consideration of specific federal funding priorities for the FY13 budget cycle.
While acknowledging the atmosphere of constrained budgets, President Brodhead emphasized "the critical role universities play as economic drivers and producers of innovative research, advanced technologies, and the next generation's workforce."
President Brodhead's FY13 Appropriations Request to Senator Richard Burr (pdf - President Brodhead sent identical letters to Senator Hagan and Representative Price)
HOUSE VOTES TO REPEAL CREDIT HOUR AND STATE AUTHORIZATION REGULATIONS
The House of Representatives on February 28 approved legislation (H.R. 2117) that would repeal Department of Education regulations on state authorization and credit hour. Sixty-nine Democrats joined all Republicans in the 303-114 vote on the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, Inside Higher Ed reports. The companion bill in the Senate (S. 1297) is not expected to make progress in that chamber, reports CQ.com, because Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) “have been staunch supporters of the administration’s efforts to curb the for-profit education industry.” The White House issued a statement on February 27 expressing strong opposition to the bill.
H.R. 2117, introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), would repeal the state authorization regulation, which significantly expands federal requirements for an institution to operate legally within a state. The rule, for example, forces institutions that offer distance education programs to meet state requirements in every state in which they have a distance education student. In response to concerns raised by the higher education community, the Department of Education announced in April 2011 that it would take a “limited enforcement approach” over the next three years on the distance learning portion of this rule.
H.R. 2117 also would repeal the new federal definition of credit hour—which institutions are concerned could open the door to federal interference in core academic decisions related to curriculum—and would prohibit the Secretary of Education from establishing a regulation about credit hour in the future.
President Brodhead sent a letter to Representative Foxx last week, thanking her for introducing H.R. 2117 and signaling his strong endorsement for the legislation. In his letter, President Brodhead pointed out the increased administrative and financial burdens associated with the original regulations, as well as the “inappropriate governmental intrusion in academic decision-making” contained therein.
House Votes to Repeal Two Controversial Education Department Rules (ChronicleofHigherEd)
Letter from President Brodhead Thanking Rep. Foxx for HR 2117 (pdf)
SPONSORS PULL BACK RESEARCH WORKS ACT
The House sponsors of the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) announced on February 27 that they would no longer try to move the bill. The announcement by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Committee member Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) came a few hours after Elsevier, a major commercial publisher and supporter of the bill, announced that it was withdrawing its support of the measure.
H.R. 3699 would prohibit all federal research funding agencies from providing free public access to scientific and scholarly articles arising from federally funded research without prior permission of the publisher. In doing so, the bill would essentially eliminate the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) PubMed Central. The PubMed Central website currently provides free public access to federally funded biomedical research articles after an embargo period of up to 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Many higher education groups and institutions opposed the Research Works Act. AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities wrote to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 6 expressing strong opposition to H.R. 3699. The groups noted that the legislation runs counter to the substance and spirit of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (P.L 111-358), which called for an interagency public access committee to coordinate federal agency policies governing the dissemination and stewardship of research results. This coordination includes collaborating with external stakeholders in the development of federal public access policies.
HIGHER ED ASSOCIATIONS URGE HHS TO ISSUE FINAL REGULATIONS ON STUDENT HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE
A group of seven higher education associations sent a letter to Administration officials today urging that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) either issue final regulations for Student Health Insurance Coverage (SHIC), or announce that their implementation will be delayed to the 2013-14 academic year.
The letter, sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant to the President Nancy-Ann E. DeParle, notes that the original Federal Register notice for the proposed SHIC regulations was published more than a year ago, but the final regulations have yet to be published. This delay has made it more difficult for colleges and universities to negotiate new contracts with health insurers, says the letter, and it has created uncertainty in the preparation of students’ financial aid packages.
Letter to HHS on SHIC (pdf)