Donald Trump Wants the Government to Fund Another Trump University

Donald Trump, the founder of an allegedly fraudulent, eponymous “university,” has come up with a novel pitch to reform higher education if elected next year: launching an online, government-funded learning academy to act as a foil to liberal colleges.

The inspiration for the project, he explained in a video shared on Truth Social Wednesday, came from the recent wave of student activism in support of Palestine, which he described as a movement aligned with “savages and jihadists.”

“We spend more money on higher education than any other country—and yet they’re turning our students into communists and terrorist sympathizers of many, many different dimensions,” he said. “I’m announcing today we will take the billions and billions of dollars that we will collect by taxing, fining, and suing excessively large private university endowments and then we will use that money to endow a new institution called the American Academy.”

The academy would “gather an entire universe of the highest quality of educational content covering the full spectrum of human knowledge and skills and make that material available to every American citizen online, for free,” Trump added.

In other words, American Academy would operate a lot like MasterClass, an unaccredited, online subscription-based learning service, though the former president said that it would somehow “compete directly” with four-year universities and provide graduates with the “equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.”

The offerings of the proposed program were shared with Politico: The academy would award credits to students who already have some college experience and help them apply for work with the US government or one of its contractors. The Trump campaign officials who spoke to the outlet were unclear about who would run the program but said they are considering everything from a board of presidential appointees to a publicly funded private entity.

This, of course, would not be the first of Trump’s half-baked educational pet projects. In 2016, he agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits, including a suit by the then New York attorney general and two class-action lawsuits brought by former students of Trump University, a real estate training program accused of false advertising and high-pressure sales techniques. “This settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university,” Eric Schneiderman, the former New York attorney general, said in 2018. 

As for the American Academy, it is just one more plank in Trump’s 2024 platform that favors a massive expansion and centralization of the federal government and executive branch. He has also proposed replacing career civil servants with political appointees; utilizing the military for domestic policing and deporting migrants; issuing cash payments to new parents; constructing 10 new cities on federal land; and creating sprawling encampments for the homeless.

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