Our View: Distance learning tuition needs to change

DKS Editors

During last week’s meeting between President Lester Lefton and members of student media, the president emphasized the importance of distance learning for Kent State’s future.

Online courses will help train Ohio’s workforce, bring money to the university and the state and help Kent State catch up with other universities that have been offering distance learning options for years. People from Columbus to Colorado could earn a degree from Kent State just by taking online classes.

Lefton feels distance learning is so important that he’s used the “mission critical” loophole in the hiring freeze to bring on a team that will help faculty develop online courses.

“It’s not the wave of the future,” Lefton said. “It’s the wave of now.”

We completely agree with the president that distance learning should be a priority of the university (for transparency’s sake, three of us on the Editorial Board have taken a course online). However, we’re concerned with the cost of distance learning.

Tuition for 12 credit hours on the Kent campus for in-state undergraduate students is $4,515. That hefty number includes a few benefits for Kent State students, like free admission to sporting events and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Tuition for 12 credit hours of online courses is also $4,515, but Joe Somebody sitting at his computer in Colorado trying to earn his instructional technology degree might find it difficult to get out to the SRWC or to a basketball game.

We feel that charging the same tuition for distance learning courses as on-campus courses is unfair. Students taking online courses cannot take full advantage of everything they’re paying for. So why should they have to pay for it?

If just Kent State students were taking online courses from the university, this wouldn’t really be a problem. But if President Lefton wants to attract students from across the country, then we think he needs to address this tuition question.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent State editorial board.