Universities will have to publish data on graduate earnings, teaching and assessment methods and contact hours under plans published this week.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities UK and GuildHE have issued a consultation document on the standard set of data that will soon be required for every higher education course in England and Northern Ireland.
Janet Beer, chair of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group and vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said the template, which mostly drew together existing data, "could go a long way to ensuring that students feel confident about the substantial personal and financial investment they are making".
The template, known as the Key Information Set, will be published alongside course details on universities' websites. Linking the information to the website of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is also being discussed.
According to the consultation document, Public Information about Higher Education: Consultation on Changes to Information Published by Institutions, the plans will help address concerns about standards and about the student experience.
Rather than expressing contact hours in a bald figure, it is proposed that universities publish the overall total study hours expected of students each week, along with an indication of how much time they will spend on different activities such as laboratory work, lectures, independent study and group work.
Other data presented would include assessment methods used, accommodation costs, information on tuition fees, scholarships and bursaries, results from the National Student Survey, and graduate destinations.
When the Key Information Set is published, from the start of the 2012-13 academic year, the data will be subject to a formal judgement in the Quality Assurance Agency's new review process.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 7 March 2011.