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Senator speaks to ASUSU

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:11

Senator Stephen Urquhart, the chair of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in Utah, spoke to members of ASUSU on Thursday.


In the meeting, he spoke about what students could do to reduce tuition costs and highlighted two controversial topics: online courses and differential tuition.


“Tuition rates have just been increasing phenomenally across the nation and it’s just not sustainable,” Urquhart said. “We’re at a point where we can’t keep doing what we’re doing.”


Christian Orr, student advocate vice president, said distance education and online courses at USU could hurt the quality of a college degree. He was concerned that the people who earned a bachelor’s degree online may not have had the same depth as a person who earned it in class.


“It’s scary to think that somebody can hop onto a computer and Google all of these things and put in all the right answers,” Orr said. “Does that mean they’re going to get the same education that we do? Does that make the quality of our degree less?”


Urquhart said online education is necessary because it helps students who can’t regularly make use of advancements in technology.


“I always ask, ‘Is online education a good thing or a bad thing?’ and you can’t answer that question,” Urquhart said. “We can either really screw it up or we can get it right.”


Orr said the only class he took online was bad because the website moderator only accepted assignments and not communications from his students. Orr said this made it hard to know what the professor expected of the class.


“There are so many more aspects to an education than just ‘plug in the right answers,’” Orr said. “There is an important social dynamic to professional preparation.”


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