MOOC Could Make Education More Accessible

    Stanford computer sciences professor Daphne Koller said, “If you’re a random student from another country, what are your chances of being admitted to a university here? But if you can show you’re a motivated student who’s completing five MOOC (massive open online courses) and done well on the proctored exam, I think a university would pay attention.”  

    According to the UCSD Director of Policy and Records Administration, “Of the incoming freshmen that enrolled in Fall 2011, we determined that there were 373 international students.” In 2011, 2,022 international students were admitted, which is a low yield rate of 15 to 20 percent.

    System wide, 141 University of California Ph.D. programs were ranked among the top 10 in their fields across a wide range of measures used by the National Research Council in 2010 to assess quality. President Mark Yudof said, “The NRC and other ranking tools attest to the fact that UC is the finest public research university system in the nation, if not the world, and that we cannot let the threat of economic uncertainty diminish us in any way.”

    For-profit colleges, which rely heavily or exclusively on online learning, suggest otherwise. UCSD Extension has competed over the last decade with the University of Phoenix whose highway billboards remind us that it has more than 40 campuses located  throughout California. By Sept. 1, 2010, Kaplan Test Prep had installed two lighted nine-foot long signs protruding from the walls of Price Center with emphasis on the word “Admissions.” All 15 for-profit colleges investigated by the federal government deceived prospective students by employing admissions representatives whom they put forth as academic counselors but who were actually hired for their sales skills. For-profit colleges account for 25 percent of Pell Grants and Stafford loans, while enrolling only 10 percent of students. At for-profit colleges, nearly two-thirds of borrowers couldn’t pay back their student loans. At the University of Phoenix alone, that amounts to $2.8 billion in federal student loan debt that isn’t being paid down (72 percent of borrowers at Kaplan University don’t pay back their student loans). And Kaplan University credits don’t transfer to either University of California or California State University campuses.

    “With the additional benefits of ACE credit recommendation for Coursera courses, students will have an unprecedented opportunity to obtain recognized credentials for their work,” said William G. Bowen, the former president of Princeton University. Harold Shapiro, also a former president of Princeton, is a bio-ethicist. He sits on the boards of a number of prominent non-profit ventures. On Aug. 12, 2008, Shapiro was elected Chairman of the Board of DeVry, Inc. The last word in ethics is provided by the most recent chancellor who joined the board of Bridgepoint Education — which advertised on the 2012 Super Bowl and Olympics.

    — Richard Thompson 
    Alumnus ‘83 

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