Under California Bill, Faculty-Free Colleges Would Award Exam-Based Degrees

A bill being considered this month by the California Assembly would create a fourth division of the state’s higher-education system that would provide no instruction and would issue college credit and degrees to any student who could pass a series of examinations.

The system currently consists of the University of California, California State University, and the California Community Colleges. The bill, AB 1306, was introduced by Assemblyman Scott Wilk, a Republican. It would create the “New University of California,” an institution with no faculty and no tuition that, like the University of California, would be governed by a board of 11 trustees and one chancellor. The Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education will consider the bill on April 23.

Under the legislation, the university would allow students to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the exams from any source, including paid courses, self-directed study, and massive online open courses, known as MOOCs.

Once a student felt prepared, he or she would pay a fee to take an exam and, upon passing it, would receive academic credit. The student would earn a degree after obtaining “sufficient academic credit in prescribed courses.”

The bill, if passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, would also give the new university the power to contract with “qualified entities” to create and administer the exams. Governor Brown has been a vocal proponent of online education but has not taken a position on Mr. Wilk’s legislation. <Read more.>

Via Allie Bidwell, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.