Robert Sarvis goes back to college, says higher education needs to meet changing job demands

Posted at 7:42 AM, Oct 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-23 07:42:11-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Libertarian senatorial candidate Robert Sarvis wants to change the traditional model of higher education if elected on November 4. Sarvis said in an interview with VCU’s “iPadJournos” project that the trajectory for high school graduates in today’s diverse economy doesn’t have to be the typical four-year university degree.

“We need a much more flexible educational system to train and retrain our young people for the workforce and the future where they’re going to have to go from occupation to occupation or job to job,” Sarvis said.

Sarvis himself earned degrees from Harvard University, University of Cambridge, New York University and George Mason University, but he believes that alternative methods may better suit today’s generation growing up in an ever-changing economy.

“We would see more vocational programs, you would see more apprenticeship programs that they have in certain countries,” Sarvis said, who want to students to be ready for “continued learning throughout your life.”

Sarvis said that he understands that not all forms of education are created equal, and that students choose models that fit their needs. But he thinks that if there were a more open and dynamic educational marketplace, there would be more vocational programs and apprenticeship opportunities to choose from.

As his opponents, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie, Sarvis wants to focus on lowering the cost of higher education. Sarvis said that if students are mandated into a four-year university model of education, the cost of education will continue to increase.

“The thing to do is to get rid of those standards, the accreditation rules, open it up to having a more flexible system. And when you have openness in competition, then you actually get innovation in business models and education models,” Sarvis said.

The libertarian candidate, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, wants the government to change the way education is subsidized and to stop favoring one form of institution over others. He believes that students should have more of a choice for where they study and more options to choose from.

“If we’re going to have any subsidies at all for higher education they should go directly to the people, to the individuals, not to institutions of a particular type,” Sarvis said.

Sen. Mark Warner’s campaign has been contacted by the “iPadJournos” project for an interview as well. An interview with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie on higher education issues was published earlier this week.

By Nicole Czaja, Brianna Graves, and John Hussar (Special to

This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.