Students may be registered in database

Rachel Abbey

A study examining the possibility of creating a database of every college and university student in the United States is currently under consideration by the Education Department.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Workforce received the study about three weeks ago, said Alexa Marrero, spokesperson for the committee.

However, there is currently no legislative proposal associated with the study, and no timetable has been set concerning when or if it would be considered, Marrero said.

The study, done by the National Center for Education Statistics, addresses whether the database would be possible and if it should be done. The database could be completed in most institutions within a year or two. As for whether the positives of the idea outweigh the negatives, the study reported that no conclusions have been drawn, but the study addresses issues such as privacy, coordination and technology.

Universities submit about 30 or 40 files of information concerning courses, sections and enrollment to the state each year, said Sally Kandel, associative vice president for Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

According to the study summary, 39 states already have some form of these unit record systems.

The database would nationally track students in aspects of their collegiate careers. Basic information such as name, Social Security number and date of birth would be the first filed step. Follow-up files would include information on majors, attempted credits and courses, date of degree completion and financial aid received.

A national database would allow comparisons of colleges and universities across state lines, Kandel said. Currently, comparisons within the state of Ohio are possible because all universities have to submit information.

“This is nothing new,” Kandel said.

Some concerns of the study include a student’s right to withhold personal information, the accessibility of data to hackers and identity thieves and the level of technology required to maintain the site.

With the current system, only states or universities can keep information on individual students.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].