Tuesday, January 15, 2013

UC-AFT Public Comment for Regents Meeting (1/16/13)

1. We appreciate the increased funding from the state, but this does not make up for years of reductions; moreover, we are concerned about the push for online education.

2. While many of our faculty members already use digital technologies in different ways, we have not found that the use of high-quality online courses reduces costs; in fact, due to the need for staffing, new equipment, and software, they may drive up costs.

3. Already the UC Online Pilot Program has failed to meet most of its projections. Millions have been spent on marketing and course development, but only a few non-UC students have enrolled.

4. In fact, we have already driven down the costs of undergraduate instruction in the UC system through the use of large classes and non-tenured faculty; moving these classes online will not save money. The stress on online education is a distraction from the real cost drivers: administration, professional education, medical centers, athletics, sponsored research, and amenities.

5. If a professor teaches 4 courses and makes $100,000 a year, the per student direct instructional cost for a class of 250 students is $100; in the case of a non-tenured faculty member, the cost on average is $40; online education will not lower these costs. Even if you eliminate all of the teachers, you still need to pay someone to design the courses, interact with the students, administer the program, and grade the papers. Online education is a recipe for administrative bloat.

6. Students have a hard time graduating on time because they are sometimes unprepared for university-level work, they are weeded out of high-demand majors, they need to work at jobs to pay for the total cost of education, they are alienated in large lecture classes, and courses are graded on a distributed curve (some students have to fail in this system): online education will not help solve these issues.

7. We need a transparent accounting of the real cost drivers in the UC system.