A California assemblyman has an ambitious plan to found a fourth system of higher education in California. The New University of California is proposed in addition to the existing University of California, California State University, and California Community College systems. This New University would not actually offer classes but instead, would award degrees based on one's abilities in a skill or subject.
Details of the Bill
Bill AB 1306 was proposed by Republican Assemblyman Scott Wilk from Santa Clarita, who wants to make college more accessible to Californians. The goal of the proposed university would be to allow students to gain the required knowledge via online courses or any other source before taking a university-administered exam. Upon passing, the student would receive credit for the course, and with enough credit, the appropriate degree could be conferred. "This bill would allow students to use whatever approach works best for them to obtain the knowledge needed to receive a college education, whether that is online courses, paid courses, or self-directed study," said a statement from Wilk's office.
Possible Effect on Education Costs
The cost of education under this proposed plan would be greatly lowered, as students would only be required to pay an examination fee, as well as a few minimal administration fees in order to receive credit and a degree. The costs of public education have risen in California, with UC in-state tuition topping $13,000 per year, CSU tuition at $7,000, and even California Community College tuition above $1,000 per year for the first time in history. The New University of California system could significantly lower the cost of obtaining a college degree.
The New University of California would be organized in a manner similar to the University of California, with a board of 11 trustees and a chancellor. Exam development would likely be contracted to other organizations and would hopefully follow other pre-established exam criteria. The bill was introduced in February and will go before the Committee on High Education for hearings on April 23.
Ignoring Bigger Problems in Education?
Although no definitive statements have been made by lawmakers or prominent educators, several students at the University of California have expressed their trepidation over the creation of such a university system. ASUC Senator and CalSERVE external affairs vice presidential candidate Nolan Pack told The Daily Californian, "I think the problem is that, while there may be arguments saying that it is cheaper, it circumvents the problem that we are not currently funding our higher education system to where it should be."
While it would provide cheap education, the New University potentially circumvents the problems the current California education system is having. Underfunding and misappropriation of funds are just some of the many issues plaguing the various higher education systems in the state.
- California Community College
- education in California