One Dupont & Unit Records

Career College Central summary:

  • A new report published this week by the New America Foundation criticizes several higher education lobbying associations for standing in the way of a proposed federal database that would provide more expansive data about how colleges are performing. The report — “College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark” — outlines the history of a proposal to create a federal student-unit record system, which has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was first suggested by then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's higher education commission in 2005.
  • Such a database would be able to track students as they move into higher education and through college — or, increasingly, multiple colleges — and into the work force. It would produce more robust information about student outcomes, such as graduation rates and salary information. The report was written by Clare McCann and Amy Laitinen, and was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation. It portrays the private college lobbying group as an outlier among a growing chorus of other higher education associations and some members of Congress who want to see a student unit record.
  • The report notes that the associations representing colleges that enroll nearly three-quarters of undergraduate students in the country now support a student-unit record system. Those groups include the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
  • Meanwhile, NAICU, which represents institutions enrolling a far smaller share of students, continues to strongly support the federal ban on such a database. The report argues that NAICU enjoys an “outsized influence” over federal policy, generally, as well as within the “Big Six” leading nonprofit higher education associations.

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