IRVING, Texas — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, potential foes in the 2016 presidential contest, said Monday that higher education has the power to transform lives and be a force for democracy around the globe.

Clinton and Bush spoke separately at the Globalization of Higher Education conference, but chatted briefly offstage. The event, co-organized by Bush, offered a bipartisan twist for the nation’s two dominant political families, both of whom could return to the presidential campaign trail next year. Bush, a former Florida governor, is the brother and son of Republican presidents. Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, served two terms in the White House before she returned to political life as a senator from New York and President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state.

“When people around the world have access to this kind of American model of education it illustrates … that we believe in spreading opportunity to more people, in more places, so that they too have the chance to live up to their own God-given potential,” Clinton said at the Dallas event. She’s worried, she added, “that we’re closing the doors to higher education in our own country so this great model that we’ve had that has meant so much to so many is becoming further and further away from too many.”

Bush spoke briefly at the start of the conference.

“Higher education in America has a growing affordability problem while billions in the developing world struggle with accessibility. Exporting U.S. post-secondary education and global consumers at scale can help really resolve both issues simultaneously,” Bush said. “Expanding access through technology can bring down the cost of delivery at home and abroad.”