Marco Rubio, one 14 Republican presidential candidates, has set his sights on higher education as part of his platform. Tuesday he called for an overhaul of the U.S. education system likening colleges to “cartels” and taking them to task for not helping students or the economy.
His views on higher education come as an attempt to increase his visibility in a crowded field of potential candidates for the 2016 presidential election. His comments came at a policy speech in Chicago.
“We do not need timid tweaks to the old system. We need a holistic overhaul. We need to change how we provide degrees, how those degrees are accessed, how much that access costs, how those costs are paid, and even how those payments are determined.” Rubio said.
He also used his speech to double-down on his candidacy’s central theme of preparing America to meet the challenges of a globalized world that is highly automated with increasing and rapid changes to technology. Jesse Rhodes a political science professor at U-Mass Amherst sees Rubio’s remarks as a way to win over the middle class for the upcoming election.
He emphasized Tuesday that he would like to see a pro-family child tax credit, creating subsidies to assist minimum-wage workers, and pushing for a higher education system that teaches high-level skills that create globally competitive graduates.
“Many young people are graduating with mountains of debt for degrees that will not lead to jobs, and many who need higher education the most – such as single parents and working adults – are left with few options that fit their schedules and budgets,” Rubio said.
To accomplish this Rubio wants to create a new accreditation process leading to more low-cost education providers, perhaps with a focus on online educators.
This is a personal subject for Rubio who says he himself was saddled with student loans upon graduation. He would like students to have the option to repay loans based on their post-graduation income or allow investors to pay a student’s tuition in return for a percentage of the student’s post-graduation wages.
Up next for Rubio is a trip to Iowa where he hopes to make up ground on other potential nominees like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ben Carson, or Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who all have an early edge on Rubio in the key state.[Reuters]