California’s system of higher education needs to be sustainable as well as academically rigorous. The University of California’s new systemwide online course offerings are a promising step toward that goal, but progress should not stop there. The state’s higher education systems need to pursue other such reforms that can help provide a strong education without draining public coffers or private pocketbooks.
The University of California system is set to unveil its Cross-Campus Enrollment system this academic year, offering students access to an assortment of online courses from across the 10-campus UC system. Many UC campuses already have online courses available to their own students, but the new program would make such classes available to students at other UC schools.
The online course system is starting out small, offering 11 varied courses, including introductory astronomy and psychology out of UC Irvine, computer science from UC Riverside and elementary Spanish from UC Davis. All the courses offered will be eligible for UC unit credit, while some could also be used for credit for a student’s major, depending on departmental and program requirements. The university plans to expand the program to 150 course offerings within three years.
Such programs should offer students a potential solution to the common college worry of being locked out of necessary classes because of high demand, which can delay graduation and add to the price of a college education. Cost savings are crucial to students, given that the average cost of attending a public college in California has more than doubled since 2003.