California Bill Would Create Faculty-Free, Tuition-Free Colleges

California Bill Would Create Faculty-Free, Tuition-Free Colleges

April 04, 2013

The California Assembly is currently considering a bill that would create a fourth division of the state's higher education system to allow for the creation of faculty-free, tuition-free colleges that would award exam-based degrees, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Under the legislation (AB 1306), the "New University of California" would allow students to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the exams from any source, including paid courses, self-directed study, and massive online open courses, known as MOOCs. Once a student felt prepared, he or she would pay a fee to take an exam and, upon passing it, receive academic credit. The student would earn a degree after obtaining "sufficient academic credit in prescribed courses."

State legislators have recently introduced several bills promoting online education, in part to generate more money for and provide more access to the state's higher education system. According to the Chronicle, lawmakers and college administrators and faculty members have had mixed reactions to such a proposed increase in online education, which some worry could lower the quality of instruction.

The California Faculty Association, which represents professors in the 23-campus Cal State system, released a statement expressing its opinion on several bills and warning of the potential downsides of online education.

"Simply increasing online offerings (on the questionable assumption that it is cheaper) or handing off education to private vendors will not serve California well in the long run," the statement reads. "Legislators' well-intentioned efforts to increase access for students ignore a proven solution that we know will increase access: investing resources in more class sections."


Related Links:

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Michelle Cormier Mott

State Relations