The University of California’s Academic Senate is dead set against a bill by State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that would open access to hard-to-get required courses through a statewide network of online courses, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle cites an open letter to UC faculty from Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell and Vice Chair Bill Jacob, saying they have “grave concerns” about Senate Bill 520, which Steinberg unveiled last week.

Steinberg wants to expand the authority of the Open Education Resources Panel, which consists of three faculty members from each of the state’s three public college and university systems, from its current role of selecting online textbooks, to allow the panel to approve online courses for the 50 most oversubscribed lower-division classes. Students in community colleges or at University of California or California State University campuses would be permitted to enroll in these courses only if they are shut out of the traditional course and must take the class in order to graduate or transfer on time.

The Academic Senate opposes giving up its authority to approve credit courses for UC, especially to an outside agency, the newspaper reported. Steinberg’s bill would allow third-party private companies that provide online courses, such as Udacity, to compete to offer the courses for an additional fee.

“There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” wrote Powell and Jacob.

According to the Chronicle, faculty and Steinberg are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the bill.

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