Friday, July 27, 2007

The Transparency Movement

By Richard Vedder

American business had a bad day yesterday as the Dow fell 2.3 percent. What happened to American higher ed yesterday? Did its stock rise or fall? What are the colleges doing --are they getting better or worse? Who knows? Fortunately, as an outgrowth of the Spellings Commission report, some real moves are coming to provide more transparency into the operations of universities.

Much of the act has to take place at the state level, and I was encouraged yesterday when the American Legislative Exchange Council brought two pieces of model legislation closer to adoption. They are proposing a Higher Education Sunshine Act and a Higher Education Accountability act. The first proposed law to be introduced into state legislatures would require universities to provide information as to the extent of intellectual diversity on campus and encourage universities to promote intellectual diversity in carrying out its mission. Colleges are more interested in skin color diversity than idea diversity, and the free flow of different ideas is critical to a vibrant university environment.

The accountability legislation would require universities to report in a consumer and legislator friendly manner all sorts of data on an easy to find web site --admission standards, data on costs, crime statistics, transfer policies, teaching loads, average time to degree, etc. -- the kinds of things parents and students want and need to know. Some states are already doing that, and legislators need to nudge others to do so.

6 comments:

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Ken D. said...

"The accountability legislation would require universities to report in a consumer and legislator friendly manner all sorts of data on an easy to find web site --admission standards, data on costs, crime statistics, transfer policies, teaching loads, average time to degree, etc."

It would be great if such a law were enacted!

Another interesting set of statistics to have would be data on student loan default rates. Does anyone know if comparative student loan default rate data by institution and program is currently available anywhere to the public?

TC said...

Ken,

Try:

http://www.ed.gov/offices/
OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr.html

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

With regard to the market last week; If one were to rely less on exchange market fundamentals and technical anaysis (because those are the tools everyone else uses - and thus, everyone is probably going to do much the same thing with their investments) and instead referred to economic models from books from the past... oh, lets say late '70's, and focused on supply and demand (such as inflows and outflows through the market), etc. - and then folded in their own top secret analysis developed and empirically tested. Then further refined and distilled such a method, they could have made money last week in the midsts of a huge sell-off Thursday and Friday. And speaking of refining and distilling, they could then have celebrated with adult beverages.

It's not so much about money making as it is about "defying conventional wisdom".

I love capitalism, the free market, Pilsner Beer, and Johnsonville Brats!

Economics... a dismal science?

I don't f'ing think so. (Pardon my french)

Ken D. said...

tc,

Thank you very much for the link. I appreciate it.

It seems this is very good information, but ideally more granularity would be very useful. For example, major universities like Ohio State and UCLA seem to list only one combined statistic which lumps together all of their doctoral programs. Presumably there must be a lot of variation between programs and departments within each university.

But this link is good to have nonetheless. Thanks again!