Photo: Flickr / RonaldWong
Governor Rick Perry’s call last year for Texas colleges to develop a $10,000 degree in his state may have just been answered, reports Texas Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton. Speaking at a SXSW Edu panel in Austin this week, Marrier Ferrier, president of Texas A&M at San Antonio, said that the school’s developed a bachelor’s of information that will ring in at about $9,700 for four years—textbooks included.
Starting next year, A&M and South Texas College will also offer a bachelor’s of applied science in organizational leadership at a price point well below $10,000.
The average tuition and fees at a Texas public university in 2010 were $6,483, adding up to a four-year total of $25,932, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Katherine Mangan. Throw in the textbooks, and students were glaring at a $30,000 price tag. In this sense, the $10,000 degree represents a huge leap forward.
However, the courses face scrutiny from critics who fear businesses and local industries won’t take the competency-based courses seriously. How much critical thinking and problem solving can you possibly do online, they argue?
Likewise, by shortening the required number of classes these students must take, critics argue this could commercialize college even further, effectively turning the schools into diploma mills.
Though Texas’ economy is booming, lowering education costs and bolstering the state’s knowledge class has been at the forefront of the state’s agenda. For years, Texas has notoriously lagged behind in literacy and high school graduation rates, and 60 per cent of the students in the K-12 grades fall into the low-income bracket.
On the plus side, A&M and South Texas’ $10,000 degree is another reminder that online classes could pave the way to more affordable education. Last December, M.I.T. University unveiled MITx, a new program that’ll enable students worldwide to access a portfolio of online courses free of charge, and choose to earn a certificate for demonstrating mastery of their subjects.