Under intense national scrutiny, Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education has backed down from its, largely unenforceable, threats to prevent universities from offering free online courses in the state.
The reversal came late on Friday; just hours after officials indicated that they were going to demand every university offering noncredit classes through Massive Open Online Course provider Coursera pay the state a $1,000 registration fee.
The fee stems from Minnesota’s 20-year-old state authorization law which is designed to protect residents from wasting time and money on a substandard education. Because the law hasn’t changed to reflect the new innovative content delivery systems, such as MOOCs and mobile learning, it doesn’t make exceptions for non-credit courses.
Until the state legislature reconvenes in January, and the law can be revised to better reflect the current reality of higher education, Minnesota’sOffice of Higher Education has decided to use its official discretion and cease requiring registration fees from schools providing not-for-credit classes.
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