UC Online Education introduces discount for employees

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A new systemwide discount on UC online courses was introduced to university employees Tuesday.

The 33 percent tuition reduction is part of a pilot program that allows all faculty, staff, their spouses and dependents, provided they are not current UC students, to enroll in a selection of nine online courses that will be open for registration from March 3 to 30. Classes begin March 31.

The discount is in addition to the regular 10 percent reduction on enrollment fees — up to $50 — that is already provided by the Regents Policy 7502, for all employees who wish to enroll in a university program.

“UC Online offers online courses to non-UC students on an ongoing basis,” said DoQuyen Tran-Taylor, program manager of UC Online Education, in an email. “With this pilot program, our intent was to extend this excellent educational opportunity to UC employees and their families.”

Tuition varies between $1,050 and $2,100. Courses include varied topics such as “Introduction to Writing and Rhetoric” as well as “Introduction to Computer Science.” Two others cover global climate change and fresh water processes and policies, while others examine democracy, war and terrorism.

The initiative comes after the university’s ongoing push to expand online course offerings and the cross-campus enrollment system introduced in November, which allows for enrollment in courses offered online at any UC campus. Most online courses are still taken by students working toward a degree, according to Tran-Taylor.

Some employees, however, expressed reservations about the affordability of the online courses, even when discounted.

“That’s a lot of money just for knowledge,” said Jeffrey Nealy, a tower coordinations operator at the Campanile. “People at the UC are not making $100,000. Is that really affordable education?”

Some of the professors who will be teaching the online classes emphasized the flexibility that these courses might offer to full-time workers.

“The convenience to an online class is that it allows you to keep your job and still take the class,” said Juliette Levy, UC Riverside professor for the online course “Introduction to Latin America.” “Not everyone has the luxury of being a student for four years.”

Arnold Bloom, a UC Davis professor of climate change who will be teaching one of the courses listed in the pilot program, believes online education is a perfect complement to face-to-face classes.

UC Berkeley also has a number of online course offerings, the majority of which are provided by UC Berkeley Extension.

“(The cost) makes it difficult to justify,” Nealy said. “If you could get a degree out of it, then that would be a different story. Though it’s still nice that they’re trying.”

Contact Robin Simmonds at [email protected].

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