Price of Education

by Jason Fredin

With the recent  Coursera and The University of Toronto announcement stating that they will be working together to offer several of their courses for free online, I was reminded of a tweet from a while ago because the courses will not be for credit.

Maybe ‘value’ was the wrong word, but the idea that you need to pay an institution so you can get an education is fading.

Higher education still has a place in the certification of individuals.

The University of Washington has announced that it plans to offer some ‘for credit’ classes through Coursera, but these will come with a fee attached. Roughly the same fee as attending the same class on campus.

What do you get with that fee? “The for credit Coursera courses would be enhanced with direct, online communication with the instructor, and students would take monitored exams.” I assume much of the work here is in monitoring exams so that UW can put their stamp of approval on your education.

Even if you look at google for another example, their Google Testing Center. All the required information for the tests is provided on the learning site, but to become certified there is a test with a small fee.

What’s the biggest threat to post secondary institutions?

Very simply, the biggest threat is themselves. If a college or university lets their standards slide, the value of the education they sell falls.

Looking around my class when I was at college (yes, a long time ago) I saw ‘D’ students struggling to get a passing mark, but they have the same diploma hanging on their wall that I do.

Recently, I have heard rumours that teachers are under pressure to pass students to keep their program’s enrolment up.

This mentality could (and should) be the death blow to the program.

Why do people hire young students from Ivey, Yale, Princeton, etc? Because those institutions only admit the brightest and hardest working and are not afraid to cut those who don’t meet their criteria.