Thursday, March 29, 2007

Distance Learning Changes

There's been one of those seemingly minor changes in the mind-numbing bureaucratic regulations that beset education that has actually made a huge difference to the system itself. An, as I say, seemingly minor change that's going to have huge effects.

As we all know, very few people actually pay directly to go to college. Just about everyone takes out federally subsidized student loans. Until recently, you could only get a loan to attend a college that taught more than 50% of its classes on campus.

With the changes in technology, from online video to the internet itself clearly this was ludicrous, but the rule remained because the traditional schools insisted that a purely online college was somehow "second rate". 

Now this wasn't true, it was simply businesses protecting themselves.

Finally, a few months back, the rule was changed, and you can now get federal student loans to attend any college, even if they do all of their teaching online.

Over time this will have huge effects on the distance learning programs of places like Collins College. No longer will they have to make sure that they have only 50% of their students in the distance learning programs, they'll be able to sign up as many as want to take the classes.

This will mean greater choice and greater competition in the market and thus, through the magical voodoo that markets do, lead to better quality and lower prices.

Not bad for a bureaucratic rule change, eh?

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