UC Online Courses Attract Few Outside Students

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by Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California has spent more than $4 million marketing its new online courses, but so far it’s attracting few students outside the UC system.

The university began offering 14 UC-quality digital courses for college credit a year ago, aiming to generate new revenue by enrolling students worldwide.

The San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/UUg6ZK) reports 1,700 UC students have taken the online courses, but only one not already enrolled at UC: a high school girl who paid $1,400 for a pre-calculus class. Four more non-UC students signed up Monday.

UC Online’s interim director, Keith Williams, said its $4.3 million marketing effort is “taking longer than we’d hoped.”

UC Online borrowed $6.9 million from the university and planned to pay back the loan by enrolling 7,000 non-UC students who would pay $1,400 to $2,400 per class.

But the online project was launched just as elite universities such as Stanford and Harvard began offering its courses for free. So-called massive open online courses, or MOOCS, have enrolled millions of students over the past year.

UC Online is struggling to attract students as Gov. Jerry Brown pressures university leaders to embrace online education to help reduce costs. During a rare appearance at a Board of Regents meeting in November, he compared UC with the U.S. Postal Service, “a venerable institution being upended by digital change.”

The board has scheduled a two-hour presentation about the online effort at its Jan. 16 meeting in San Francisco.

Apart from the 14 new courses, the system offers about 250 online classes for undergraduate and graduate students already enrolled at a UC campus.

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