As part of our review of currently pending higher education legislation, we wanted to let you know about a recently introduced bill that was introduced after the release of our Education Services Alert last week.  On September 19, 2014, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the “Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act,” which is designed to “crack down on worthless degrees peddled by unscrupulous academic institutions.”  Although the bill text was not immediately available, it is likely that the bill would closely resemble a bill introduced by Senators Harkin and Merkley (and Senator Barbara Mikulski) under the same name in 2012.

In short, the bill would require that institutions offering programs that lead to licensure or the ability to sit for a licensure exam to meet the standards to allow graduates to obtain such licensure in the state in which the institution is operating – including obtaining any programmatic accreditation.  Additionally, the institution must disclose to any potential student if the program does not qualify a graudate to obtain licensure or sit for a licensure exam in a state in which the student is located.