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University of California Takes Another Look at Online Education

University of California Takes Another Look at Online Education

Inside Higher Ed

Lauren Coffey
January 9, 2024
Early last year, the University of California Academic Senate changed the system’s policies to essentially ban students from earning a fully online bachelor’s degree from any of its 10 campuses. The decision drew both internal and external criticism that the university was ignoring the potential benefits of virtual learning—and troubled some UC administrators and regents who believe the governing board must have a say in changing the institution’s degree offerings.
Late in 2023, faculty leaders and administrators at the university hatched a compromise: a 20-member presidential task force to look into the efficacy of online degree programs and evaluate instructional modalities. University leaders characterized the committee as a way to “provide for high-quality in-person, hybrid and online offerings for students, including innovations that promote engagement and learning no matter where students are located.”
While at its core the tension at UC is over the quality of online education, it is also noteworthy for what it says about the balance of power and authority in shared governance at an institution that takes that value more seriously than most. In questioning the action of the Academic Senate to bar online degrees, regents clearly believe that decisions on which academic programs the university offers, and how they are delivered, falls under the regents’ authority.
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