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A New Deal for Higher Education

For the Common Good

Expertise and critical thinking are under attack, and our society suffers as a result. We need to reaffirm the role that higher education plays in our society. We must stand up for a just, inclusive system of higher education, one that can help transform our society. We need a new deal for higher education.

The Value of Higher Education

Build prosperity from the bottom up

Education and educated people drive economic success, from the vibrancy of our communities to the health of the whole economy. Higher education provides these tools by preparing students to be the workforce of the future, from teachers, nurses, and technicians to programmers, paralegals, and IT specialists. As large employers, universities and colleges have the ability to reverse course and lead with truly high road practices that strengthen the stability of their workforces, the educational experiences of their students, and their local economies.

Advance social, racial, and economic justice

Teaching and research should raise our awareness of systemic inequalities and pioneer new ways to address them. The education and training available to students in higher education should also create economic mobility and reverse economic disparities. If our system of higher education is affordable and accessible to all, it can be a pillar of a more just world.

Strengthen democracy and civil society

Participating in democracy requires the ability to recognize truth, to challenge our understandings, and to think critically about the world in which we find ourselves. Higher education challenges all students to build these abilities. Strengthening higher education makes our democracy stronger because it empowers people to think about their lives and make meaningful change in the world.

Foster knowledge and innovation

Higher education must inspire the free exchange of ideas and the search for truth. All scholarship and teaching creates value–whether it is social, economic, or cultural. Scholarly work advances us as a society and prepares us for the challenges of our world.

The Policy Plan

A true New Deal for Higher Education will reauthorize the Higher Education Act and create other federal policies that establish dedicated public funding streams and hold administrations accountable for how those monies are spent. This campaign will advocate for:

  • prioritizing teaching, research, and supporting student success;
  • allowing all students to access higher education regardless of their ability to pay;
  • ensuring job security, equitable pay, professional voice, and sustainable careers for all faculty and staff;
  • creating academic environments free from racism, sexism, and other bigotries that prevent learning, degrade research, and perpetuate inequality; and
  • canceling student debt for borrowers who have unjustly shouldered the burden of financing higher education the last forty years.


Start the conversation about a New Deal for Higher Education on your campus with these resources.

The Edge: How Higher Ed Can Help Repair Our Democracy

The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 2021.

How to Save Higher Education

Washington Monthly. September/October 2020.

We Need an Academic New Deal

The Nation. June 2020.

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