Former President Donald Trump is outlining a plan to reshape higher education in the United States, proposing the creation of a federally funded online university, the “American Academy,” that would provide free degrees. In his policy proposal, he suggests funding the new institution by taxing large private university endowments, a move aimed at making higher education more affordable and countering what he sees as ideological influences on college campuses.
This proposal comes as American institutions, including prestigious universities, have faced increasing political scrutiny, most recently due to their responses to events like the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Prominent figures from the business world, politics, and philanthropy have criticized these institutions for their perceived political biases, muted responses, or allowing certain speakers on campus.
Donald Trump’s Concerns on the Cost and Ideological in Higher Education
In a video outlining his proposal, Donald Trump expressed concerns about the cost and ideological influences in higher education. He stated, “We spend more money on higher education than any other country, and yet, they’re turning our students into communists and terrorists and sympathizers of many, many different dimensions. We can’t let this happen.”
The American Academy, as outlined in Trump’s plans, would offer students credits for their previous coursework, allowing them to apply these credentials for employment opportunities with the U.S. government and federal contractors. While the Donald Trump campaign officials have not yet determined the management of the American Academy, they suggest the inclusion of private sector resources.
Taxing Large Private University
Funding for this institution would primarily come from taxing large private university endowments, a measure that has long been favored by conservatives. Trump’s proposal is a departure from the approach of the Biden administration, which has focused on offering debt relief to those who have student loan debt without obtaining a degree.
The American Academy’s goal is to provide affordable education and expand opportunities for over 40 million Americans who have some college experience but have not completed their degrees. By offering various types of credentials, including degrees, recognized by the federal government and its contractors, the institution aims to address the issue of costly higher education in the United States. This approach contrasts with President Joe Biden’s plan, which aims to eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt.
While this isn’t the first time that education policy has been a focal point for Donald Trump, his proposal highlights the need for new accreditation standards, reducing diversity, equity, and inclusion administrators, emphasizing the importance of American and Western civilization in school curricula, implementing entrance and exit exams for college students, and providing options for accelerated and cost-effective degrees and career placement.
It remains to be seen whether this ambitious proposal will gain the necessary support and funding to transform higher education in the United States. Trump’s previous attempt to establish an educational institution, Trump University, ended with a $25 million settlement to address allegations of fraud related to the real estate seminar program.
The idea of a national American university has historical roots, with George Washington proposing the idea in 1780 to promote science, literature, and civic education. Today, some Republicans have called for changes in the traditional higher education system, citing concerns about progressive ideologies and a lack of ideological diversity on college campuses. Trump’s proposal has rekindled discussions about reshaping higher education, focusing on affordability and ideological influences, making it a topic of political debate and potential change in the future.