The University of California — Los Angeles (UCLA) is well known throughout the United States for being a highly selective public university as well as a flagship campus of the University of California system. Over the past few months, the university has been taking some heat for attempting to create a program known as the National Dream University, which would allow undocumented illegal immigrants to take online classes for college credit at a discounted rate. The program, which came to terms through a partnership between the UCLA Center for Labor Research and the National Labor College, has been the topic of negative media attention since it came to light that this type of program was being created using California tax dollars.
As of September 13, 2012 it was announced that UCLA has shut down the controversial program due partially to a lack of approval from UCLA administrators. It is speculated that the program was also put to a stop due to public pressure and California lawmakers that were openly against implementing a program such as this. The news came as somewhat of a surprise, as the National Dream University was actively recruiting applicants early this summer to apply for the October 5 deadline.
Through the National Dream University, eligible students would have been able to enroll in six online courses. Approximately 30-35 students were set to be accepted into the program upon its commencement. Completion of the program would award a certificate, but would allow students to transfer credits to an associate or bachelor’s degree. The courses would be taught on topics such as labor history, and nonviolence and social movements. Part of the admission requirements included demonstrating a commitment to immigrant/labor rights and social justice.
Much of the debate is based on the premise that the total cost for students in the National Dream University to obtain 18 credits would be approximately $2,500, while the cost for legal residents of California to obtain 18 credits is approximately $6,600. In addition, students admitted to the program would be eligible for federal financial aid.
The purpose of the program was to give undocumented students the opportunity to obtain college credit for a lower cost, while easily maintaining a job due to the online class format. Although, with the annual rising cost of tuition in the University of California system accompanied with limited resources available to students due to budget cuts, many see this program as an unfair allocation of funds.
University of California system President Mark Yudof has stated that although this program has been suspended, future partnerships between UCLA and the National Labor College to establish a similar program are not out of the question. Advocates for the program are still trying to petition that the program be re-opened for the initial January 2013 start date.
What do you think about a well-known public university attempting to create this program? Would you like to see the University push harder to make this idea a reality or do you think California tax dollars shouldn’t support a program such as this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.