SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California has spent more than $4 million marketing its new online courses, but so far it’s attracting few students outside the UC system.
About 1,700 students have taken the 14 UC Online courses the university began offering for college credit a year ago, but only one of them was not a registered student, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Four more non-UC students signed up Monday.
UC Online’s interim director, Keith Williams, told the Chronicle that its $4.3 million marketing effort is “taking longer than we’d hoped.”
University officials said Tuesday that the main goal of the UC Online initiative is not to recruit non-UC students, but to help registered students get the classes they need and graduate on time.
UC Online borrowed $6.9 million from the university and planned to pay back the loan by enrolling 7,000 non-UC students who would pay $1,400 to $2,400 per class, according to the newspaper.
But the online project was launched just as elite universities such as Stanford and Harvard began offering its courses for free. So-called massive open online courses, or MOOCS, have enrolled hundreds of thousands of students over the past year.
Gov. Jerry Brown has been pressuring university leaders to embrace online education to help reduce costs. During a rare appearance at a board of regents meeting in November, he compared UC with the U.S. Postal Service, “a venerable institution being upended by digital change.”
The board has scheduled a two-hour presentation about the university’s online education programs at its Jan. 16 meeting in San Francisco.
Apart from the 14 UC Online courses, the 10-campus system offers more than 250 online courses for credit at the undergraduate and graduate level. More UC Online courses are planned.