Lone Star moots charges to make Moocs add up

The University of Texas system plans to offer degree credits for courses completed through the edX online-learning platform and charge for such courses - offering a potential new direction in the delivery of massive open online courses (Moocs).

October 25, 2012

The move would make the confederation of nine universities and six health institutions the first to charge for courses delivered through the edX platform.

Meanwhile, universities that "have rushed to offer" free online content have been called "irresponsible" by The Open University's vice-chancellor.

The UT system, which includes the University of Texas at Austin, announced on 15 October that it will offer at least four courses through edX during the next year.

It plans "to eventually offer courses for credit", a spokeswoman for the system told the BBC. "There will be a tuition charge for credit-earning courses, but the amount hasn't been determined."

Universities that have joined free online platforms have been grappling with how to make the system financially viable, and UT is the first to explicitly propose charging students if they want to earn degree credits.

Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of The Open University, told Exporting Excellence: Capitalising on the Global Value of UK Education, a conference held in London on 17 October, that the "rule book" was being torn up by online learning.

The rise of Moocs on providers such as edX had created a "Napster moment for higher education", he said, referring to the growth in free music file-sharing, pioneered by the original incarnation of the Napster website, that has upended the music industry's business model.

He cited major businesses such as the Blockbuster video rental chain that had been driven to bankruptcy after being undercut and circumvented by internet offerings.

Asked whether he thought universities should give away their content for free online, Professor Bean said: "I think there's no doubt that this Mooc frenzy is irresponsible."

He warned that the Mooc model was just "one chapter" in how higher education would be transformed by the internet, so it was "irresponsible" to rush towards it.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study