A new report by the New America Foundation calls for lifting a five-year-old ban on the creation of a federal database for tracking students into the work force, saying such a system could answer students’ and policy makers’ questions about the value of different degrees.
The report, “College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark,” traces the controversial “unit record” proposal from its origins, in the George W. Bush administration, to the recent Student Right to Know Before You Go bill, which would link individual student records to wage data in an effort to better inform consumers. The report argues that momentum is building for the creation of such a system, despite continued opposition from the private-college lobby.
This comprehensive report provides a biased look into state and federal unit record systems. While it clearly advocates for such systems, it provides a detailed history of how such projects were introduced, by whom, and when, as well as the hurdles they’ve faced. There is a discussion of student privacy issues, but it is shallow.