by Peter Neiger
The growing number of online schools continue to face strong opposition from traditional institutions, finding new problems around every turn. Today’s battlefield: Maryland.
The University of Maryland University College is a public university that houses a large distance-learning program. UMUC has not really had any problem with their distance-learning program until they began their doctoral program in community college administration. You see, Morgan State University has a similar program and a unique status as a traditionally black college -- it is able to prevent other institutions from competing with their programs. The original intent of this rule was to encourage desegregation by eliminating redundant programs at the state level. This puts UMUC in a unique position: they can only allow students into this program that are not living in Maryland because MSU has a similar doctoral program.
Logistically this is absurd. It is unrealistic to think that the MSU program, which is geared towards working adults and only held on the weekend, can really accommodate every potential candidate in the state. UMUC's online program has the potential to offer an education to a multitude of people across the state and nation.
It is downright disgusting that MSU would intentionally act to deny an education to potential students. MSU does not have an inherent right to teach a certain program, especially if they are not up to snuff and UMUC can better meet the needs of potential students. Tradition is one thing, but it should not get in the way of progress. If MSU wants to gain a competitive advantage in programs that it offers in a certain field, then they should have to due so through, well competition--not monopolistic politics that block it.
CCAP is all for reducing redundancies, but we also believe in markets and choices. If UMUC believes that there is a need for its doctoral program or that it can offer a better product than what is currently available, then it should be allowed to do so. After all, the focus should be on what is best for the students, not the institutions. If an online doctoral course presents the best opportunities for students to get the education they need, then it should be utilized.