When the average consumer considers making a major new purchase like a home or automobile, most do their homework before they actually commit themselves. Too much time and money is at stake to do otherwise.

Like consumers, higher education students also tend to do a bit of “comparison shopping,” evaluating professors and classes as they create their schedule for the semester. However, unlike consumers, students only have a very limited amount of information available to them before making their “purchases.” That is, until recently.

A new state law, HB 2504, goes into effect beginning this fall that requires Texas’ public colleges and universities to post faculty and course information online aimed at helping students make more informed decisions. The newly available information includes course syllabi, student evaluations, and professors’ curricula vitae, as well as departmental budgets.

While most consider giving students access to more information about their higher education choices a good thing, some university officials have begun to express their dismay, citing cost concerns and issues with manpower-a familiar tune, it seems, whenever new transparency initiatives are launched.

No matter how much hullabaloo is raised by officials though, the fact of the matter is that the average Texas undergraduate invests upwards of $80,000 in pursuit of a four-year degree and they have every reason to know what they are putting their money towards. Plain and simple.

– Bill FixIntern, Center for Fiscal Policy