By Kate Willson
The advent of MOOCs offered by top universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford has raised some questions about the current cost of higher education. If academic institutions like Harvard and MIT can offer some of their best courses online, for free, why are college students paying tens of thousands of dollars each year for their educations? Whether college educations should be available to everyone for free is up for debate. The price of college for most students, however, is undeniably too high. Student loan debt in the U.S. is ballooning out of control, and the cost of an education at many private and public schools only seems to be getting higher.
Fortunately, one system of universities is investigating an innovative way to lower the costs of tuition, according to Dayton Daily News. The Antioch University system is now partnering up with Coursera to offer college credit for approved free, online courses. Coursera is one of the major players on the MOOC scene and offers a number of online courses from universities like Stanford, John Hopkins, Duke, Princeton, Rice, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, and University of Michigan. Coursera’s partnership with Antioch University will be the first of its kind, and it will be the first time a university has embraced MOOCs.
The Antioch University system is made up of five different campuses in four different U.S. states. At the beginning of October, Antioch University’s Los Angeles campus started giving students credit for two free Coursera courses produced by the University of Pennsylvania. Starting in January 2013, the school will offer students credit for three additional free, online courses. The Antioch University system expects that its other campuses will begin to offer college credit for some of Coursera’s MOOCs over the next year.
Antioch University intends to lower the overall costs of education at its five campuses using the MOOCs offered by Coursera. Students at Antioch campuses pay a little over $12,000 a year for tuition, which makes its schools some of the least expensive private options in the U.S. Lowering costs even further with the help of MOOCs is a bold and brave thing to do.
Antioch University is one of the few institutions in the country attempting to lower the cost of higher education. Earlier this month, Angelo State University in Texas announced its plans to offer degrees for a flat rate of $10,000 starting next semester. Additionally, the online nonprofit university, Western Governors University, is making waves in higher education by providing students with flexible, online course work for $2,890 per every six month academic term. In comparison to other online colleges and even brick-and-mortar universities, Western Governors University stands out as a bargain and is a model for how online courses can drive the cost of college down.
It will be exciting to witness the effect MOOCs have on the price of higher education over the next few years. As the price of college grows unreasonably high, we’re definitely in need of solutions.
Kate Willson is a professional writer and blogger. Well-versed in all topics pertaining to college life and professional development, Kate frequently contributes to top online education and career-related sites. Please leave your comments and questions for Kate below!