Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Outsourcing UC

Senator Steinberg is pushing a bill that will potentially outsource many of the University of California lower-division courses to outside course provides like Udacity and Coursera. Here we see one of the clearest examples of privatizing a public good. The state cuts the UC budget for years, and then the same people who cut the budget say we should now turn to online education to deal with the mess. Of course they add that faculty will have a say, but the question is which faculty, and can they stop a plan that is supported by the university president, the governor, and now the legislature?

As I told people in the governor’s office and various legislative staff, there is no evidence that this will save money or move people through the system in a more efficient manner. There is also ample evidence that the students who need the most individual attention will end up having their courses online. I have urged the Academic Council to fight this move, but it looks like the senate is either being co-opted or pushed aside.

This move is a recipe for administrative bloat and the further undermining of shared governance in the University of California. Already people are questioning the value of a UC degree, and so we must ask, who will fight this change?