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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New degree options far away but affordable

At last week’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting, the presidents of each of the three Arizona universities gave a report of the measures they have taken to reduce costs, both for the state and for students. Though each president had his own, equally white-washed spin on the subject of how to deal without the state money that had previously supported higher education, a common theme of the reports is to move degree options away from the main campus and, in doing so, make them more affordable.

The Arizona university system plans to create more online and remote-learning options to reduce costs and get students through degree programs faster. While we’re always interested in ways to get more degree for our dollar, the reorganization raises key questions about the nature of higher education in Arizona. Are we cutting costs, or are we cutting corners?

As reported by The Associated Press, “”Under the plan, up to five new campuses will offer only bachelor’s degrees with limited, more service-driven majors. The campuses also would have cheaper in-state tuition than ASU, NAU and UA.””

Provided these new locations don’t try to offer all degrees on all campuses, this could be a positive change in the Arizona university system. Though going to the UA wouldn’t be the same without the rites of passage like living on campus, getting heatstroke while waiting for football games to start in the Zona Zoo section of Arizona Stadium and people-watching on the UA Mall, some might happily go without those college experiences if it meant going without student loans.

Unless you’re a science or dance major, it’s not that important to be close to the main UA campus. If you don’t need the high-tech labs and beautiful Steve Eller Dance building, a more affordable option farther away from Old Main can sound like a desirable option. Housing is more affordable in other areas of the state, and older students with families could get a university education without having to come all the way to Tucson.

Arizona residents currently have few options for colleges they can attend and pay in-state tuition. With this new plan, residents will have more options than the current Tucson, Flagstaff or Tempe locations.

The AP article notes that ASU, “”is working with undergraduate colleges to extend its programs across the state, including a three-year degree option. The campuses would be freestanding colleges, and the university hopes to open the first one by fall 2011.””

Though it is not ideal to have to go through a shortfall-induced overhaul of an entire educational structure, this move toward smaller, cheaper, more streamlined outposts of the existing Arizona universities could be a good thing to combat the drop-off in funding. Classes in Centennial Hall are never ideal — but these new, more affordable degree options might be.

Clearly, the Arizona university system is no Ivy League. The goal of this university system is to grant affordable degrees to hardworking people who can use them to establish or advance their careers.

Thankfully for administrators and students, when it comes to new degree options at Arizona universities, you don’t get what you pay for.

— Anna Swenson is the opinions editor. She is a sophomore majoring in English and loves a good deal. Reach her at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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