“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values. They’ve been under siege,” said Trump Thursday before he signed an executive order meant to, “enhance the quality of postsecondary education by making it more affordable, more transparent, and more accountable.”


Specifically, the EO targets “free and open debate on college and university campuses.” Failure to comply could result in punitive measures by way of research funding.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The order will direct federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to ensure that colleges receiving federal research funds “promote free inquiry.” But public colleges are already legally bound to do so by the First Amendment. And private colleges will be required only to “comply with their stated institutional policies regarding free inquiry,” according to Politico, which cited an unnamed senior official in the Trump administration.

The order also will direct the Education Department to do two things: Add program-level outcomes data to the College Scorecard and produce a report examining “policy options” for the idea of risk sharing on student-loan debt.

Inside Higher Ed has a more detailed breakdown:

The executive order essentially directs federal agencies to ensure colleges are following existing requirements. And it doesn’t spell out how enforcement of the order would work.

It will direct 12 federal grant-making agencies to coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget to certify that colleges receiving federal research funds comply with existing federal law and regulations touching on free academic inquiry, a senior administration official said in a call with reporters Thursday morning. The directive doesn’t apply to federal student aid programs.

The administration expects public institutions to uphold the First Amendment and private colleges to comply with their “stated institutional policies” on freedom of speech.

The document will also direct the Education Department to publish program-level data in the College Scorecard on measures of student outcomes, including earnings, student debt, default rates and loan repayment rates, the official told reporters.

And it will direct the department to submit policy recommendations to the White House by January 2020 on risk-sharing proposals for colleges that participate in the federal student loan program.

The executive order puts extra force behind several policies the White House has backed previously. For example, earlier this week the administration released a report on priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that included program-level data and a new accountability system for colleges.

Full text of the order here:

White House Executive Order on Open Debate in Higher Education by Legal Insurrection on Scribd