Law and the Conundrum of Higher Education Quality

46 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2018

See all articles by Jonathan Glater

Jonathan Glater

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date Written: March 23, 2018


Although historically the federal government has been reluctant to assess the quality of the education offered by institutions of higher learning, the Department of Education under the Obama Administration quietly implemented a perspective on quality that focused on the financial outcome of a program of education for students. Those institutions that produce students who do not make progress on repayment of student loans or who default on such obligations are deemed low quality. The focus on the economic impact of higher education is not the only path forward; policymakers including regulators and courts could turn their attention to education inputs, as New York’s attorney general did in litigation against Trump University, rather than outputs. This Essay contends that the quiet acceptance in regulation and law of income as the best proxy of institutional quality is misguided and dangerous. The Essay warns that failure to grapple with the difficult question of quality of education threatens the quality of democracy.

Suggested Citation

Glater, Jonathan, Law and the Conundrum of Higher Education Quality (March 23, 2018). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2018, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-23, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Glater (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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