The other Republican candidates would be wise to address this issue as well.

Michael Stratford reports at Inside Higher Ed.

Rubio’s Take on Higher Ed

Senator Marco Rubio is the only Republican presidential candidate talking in detail about higher education so far.

And he’s not treading lightly.

American higher education is “outdated,” “too expensive,” “broken” and “not working” for students or the economy, Rubio has said in recent months. The system, he says, is controlled by a “cartel of existing colleges and universities” that keeps out new, alternative providers of postsecondary education.

“We do not need timid tweaks to the old system,” he said this summer. “We need a holistic overhaul.”

On the one hand, bashing higher education — especially as a bastion of liberal elites — is a well-worn tradition for some candidates on the Republican primary trail. For instance, the last time former Senator Rick Santorum made a bid for the nomination, in 2012, he famously called President Obama a “snob” for wanting all Americans to attend college, amid a host of other attacks on higher education.

Rubio’s critique of higher education, though, builds on work he’s done over the past several years in the Senate to push legislation overhauling various aspects of accreditation, federal student loan repayment and how the government can or should track the performance of colleges and universities.

As a senator from Florida, Rubio has delved deeply into the intricacies of federal higher education policy in a way that sets him apart from other lawmakers, especially those who, like Rubio, are not on either of the congressional education committees. Many of Rubio’s efforts have been bipartisan, and in some cases he’s bucked conservatives in his own party on higher education issues like income-based repayment and federal tracking of student outcomes.

Record In Florida

Rubio appears to have made few waves on higher education as he got his political start in the Florida House of Representatives, where he became speaker in 2006. As a state legislative leader, he worked on the annual budget, but observers of higher education in the state didn’t recall much of a personal focus by Rubio on postsecondary issues.