Should the University Offer Online Undergraduate Degrees?

19 March 2018

The University of Melbourne now offers a range of specialist online graduate courses, raising the question of whether the same should be done for undergraduate courses.

The courses attempt to accommodate students for whom commuting to campus is not convenient or possible.

Online graduate courses include areas of business, education, information technology, law and medicine.

The University’s website assures the courses are still as highly regarded as other graduate courses, and provide the highest levels of support to students.

The University’s first online graduate, Christie Cline states in an article that online learning provided her with “the flexibility to juggle parenting and other commitments.”

Many undergraduate students also face circumstances that make it difficult to commute to campus. While many undergraduate lectures are recorded, students must meet tutorial hurdle requirements in order to pass their subjects.

“I have anxiety which means I can’t make it to class all of the time. Despite me receiving H1s on almost all assignments I submit, I’ve still failed a few subjects because the University won’t waive attendance hurdles,” said Morgan-Lee Snell, an arts student.

“My psychiatrist has even requested I be able to contribute to tutorials online and the University still says no. They only accept doctors’ certificates as an exemption from class a few times.”

Snell believes the University should provide online options for undergraduate degrees. Master of International Business student, Nikhilesh Chaudhari, agrees.

“I used it for my first semester lectures and in my view, it was a positive experience. You can pace them accordingly and access them any time, on any device, which helps in understanding them better,” he said.

Bachelor of Arts student, Alex Shermon, completed two weeks of a subject online when his tutor went overseas. He thinks students cannot engage with the content to the same degree online compared to a classroom.

“It was a horrible experience. Although the recorded lectures were fine, the online forums were counterproductive to good philosophical discussion because everyone was a bit too shy to share their thoughts,” he said.

Chaudhari also voiced concerns.

“One con, I think, is you’re alone. If, in the future, it could be connected to some sort of virtual reality, I think it would be a great way of learning. But I think it would require a high amount of self management skills and focus by students to stay on track.”

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