whither BSU?

I read on the boards today our past and our future.

Martin Weller is coming face to face with the inequities that tuition burdens place on students, as he discusses here.

… The higher education sector in the UK was a widely respected, profitable and functioning system. It was by no means perfect and certainly wasn’t efficient, but it worked. I appreciate it worked because it was funded to an extent by the UK taxpayer, but even in hard economic terms, this shift from Government debt to private debt doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not all debt is equal – Government debt can be long term and at low interest rates. Private debt creates a liquidity trap in times of economic crisis, because individuals seek to reduce their debt and thus don’t contribute to growth, thereby creating more debt. And a nation’s debt is best measured by combining Government debt, financial institutional debt, and personal debt. Shifting it to individuals then doesn’t reduce the overall debt, it just increases the damage it does to your economic outlook.

We’ve seen the tuition gap spreading in the States over the past 15 years or so, Martin. It gets worse as they privatize the student loan sector. Administrative costs rise. Faculty pay is cut. But worst of all, education becomes too expensive first for students to explore, and then too expensive to engage full time. The kicker comes when they ask the universities to re-work the curriculum so that students can finish a four-year degree in three years. Why? To keep the cost down. The cost they created by shifting funding away from student tuition.

And George Siemens publishes an open letter to Canadian Universities detailing their lack of leadership. As opportunities for education are created by Canadian faculty (MOOCs), the leadership turns south, to the US.

Canadian universities are squandering an opportunity to reply meaningfully to Coursera and EDx. I’m aware of at least two major Canadian universities that are negotiating to join Coursera. Why give not develop your own? Why not create an active experiment in a Canadian context that allows you to build your understanding of emerging learning models?

This is just as spooky as needless tuition increases, but to be expected. It’s a signal that MOOCs will be appropriated as a corporate product. They are using the pseudo-MOOC to sneak mass tuition in by the back door.

Leaders, but no leadership. In desparation, I blame the bankers. Black Friday’s comin’ back.