By Steve Kolowich, for Inside Higher Ed
“Let’s leverage web-based instruction, innovative teaching techniques and aggressive efficiency measures to reach that goal,” he said. Texas Governor Perry is not the first Republican governor to turn heads by suggesting that colleges could use technology to vastly reduce the cost of degree programmes without sacrificing quality. Last summer, Tim Pawlenty, then the governor of Minnesota, suggested that students should be able to pay $199 per course for “iCollege”. (While Pawlenty was inspired by Steve Jobs, Perry’s muse was rival technology cynosure Bill Gates. At a conference in San Francisco last August, Gates said that a four-year bachelor’s programme should cost $2,000 per year, not $20,000. Accounting for textbooks, Perry’s maths roughly matches Gates’.) But while Pawlenty appeared to be speaking rhetorically and perhaps a bit in jest – he proposed the idea on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart not from the bully pulpit – Perry is deadly serious. “He wouldn’t be challenging universities to implement it if he didn’t think it could happen,” said the spokeswoman. So, can it be done?
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