General education prices slashed

‘GenEd Core’ pilot program, other initiatives discussed at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting

By Grant Morgan and Courtney Powell

A cheaper general education program, a free college program for junior high and high school students, new Learning Communities, changes to the USG constitution—such topics were discussed at yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has been pushing universities to maker higher education more affordable and accessible. “GenEd Core” is one of UA’s ways of doing so.

GenEd Core is a pilot program that will start in fall 2015. It will make introductory courses much cheaper, reducing the price from around $359 per credit hour to $50 per credit hour. $50 per credit hour is “half the cost of comparable courses offered by area community colleges,” according to a news release in The Digest.

The program comprises blended learning courses—predominantly online, but with experiential and classroom instruction as well.

“For the most part, there is going to be a single faculty member per course,” said Todd Rickel, vice provost and executive dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology. “[The classes] could be on main [campus], could be on satellites, could be at the Wayne regional campus as well.”

The courses in this program include “English composition and oral communication, mathematics, arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences,” according to The Digest report. Specific courses have not been finalized.

GenEd Core’s academic value is expected to be the same as all other UA courses.

“The Higher Learning Commission reviews to ensure that the standards we use are consistent,” Rickel said. “There really is a standard of excellence that all of our courses are expected to meet.”

Students can register for GenEd Core courses starting May 15; but, regardless of financials, they should also be weary of whether GenEd Core is right for them.

“For students that are unsure of their technology skills…not really sure they want to learn in an online environment; they really want to learn traditionally—then they probably should continue to do that,” Rickel said. “For students who are interested in online…in the convenience…in innovation, then I would say the blended learning is probably a good option.”

GenEd Core must still be approved by the Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor.

The Board meeting also covered UA’s partnership with around 50 regional school districts in a program called College Credit Plus.

CCP funds universities for students getting college credit between seventh and twelfth grades; CCP-funded courses give their students both college and high school credit, and will be paid for by the state.

The program lets students “see what college might feel like without taking on debt,” according to President Scarborough in a UA news release. They pay less for college, get their degree faster, and can explore more academic interests beforehand.

Students will take the courses at UA main campus, satellite campuses, online, or through distance-learning centers. The courses might also be taught by UA professors or qualified high school teachers at students’ schools.

UA priced its CCP-funded courses at $40. CCP-funded courses on UA’s main or satellite campuses cost more—$160—but will still be covered by the state.

USG representatives explained changes to their constitution at the meeting.

Legislation to be voted on by the studentry no longer requires a two-thirds vote, but only a majority. Also, USG will not approve new student organizations anymore; that will now be the Department of Student Life’s job. USG will be responsible for student organization outreach instead.

Learning Communities were also brought up.

According to a report on LCs at the meeting, “LCs play a significant role in the success of college students…in addition to positive academic outcomes, LCs promote diversity, social tolerance, and personal and interpersonal development.”

52 academic LCs and 15 Living-learning Communities will be available for fall 2015 freshmen. There will also be 7 Career Exploration LCs, which will help wavering students find a major.

In the meeting, President Scarborough reflected on UA’s recent achievements, including the success of the Black Male Summit and Alternative Spring Break. Scarborough also acknowledged the Knight Foundation’s contributions and the success of UA’s athletic teams.