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Students, administrators discuss new Big Ten course sharing program



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Tulips bloom at sunrise April 21 in front of the Sample Gates. Undergraduate students are eligible to take one online course per semester from six other schools in the Big Ten Academic Alliance during the 2020-21 academic year with fees and tuition waived. Carl Cote

IU announced a program Aug. 3 with six other Big Ten institutions to offer IU undergraduates free courses at the partnering institutions for the 2020-21 school year.

The Big Ten Academic Alliance Online Course Sharing Programallows students currently enrolled as undergraduate students at a participating Big Ten institution to be enrolled in one course at another participating institution for no additional tuition or fees associated with the course, according to the program’s website.  Students may be required to purchase materials related to the course, such as textbooks.

Mark McConahay, IU associate vice provost and registrar, said there is potential the course sharing program will be expanded beyond the pandemic, but it will be evaluated by all partnering institutions after this academic year.

Students in this program are enrolled in a partnering institution as a non-degree student, McConahay said. This means that there is no guarantee that credits of the courses taken through this program will transfer to IU, but students can submit their transcripts after completing their courses and request for credit transfer.

According to the Big Ten Academic Alliance FAQ page , courses taken through this program also won't count towards a student's enrollment status and financial aid eligibility at their home institutions.

“There's no guarantee that that's going to do anything to get them closer to completing their degree at IU,” said Kurt Zorn, IU vice provost for undergraduate education. “But it'll make them a more knowledgeable person.”

As part of the course sharing program, IU has offered 21 courses to undergraduates from other institutions, covering a wide range of topics from music to informatics technologies. McConahay said there are a total of 182 course offerings across the Big Ten and 108 students have applied to take courses offered by IU.

IU sophomore Kelvin Giang said the course sharing program is a good way to keep people busy during the pandemic. However, he said because of his course load and involvements this semester, he won’t apply to take an additional course through the program.

“Do I really wanna take a class that doesn’t count towards my degree, but just for something extra?” he said. “ I would if I weren’t having 17 credit hours.” 

Sophomore Antonio Wei said he thinks it’s likely that not a lot of IU students will participate in the program this fall because students already have their fall schedule set and might find it hard to fit in an additional course. He said he is willing to take a course in the spring semester.

“It’s amazing how these colleges are coming together to support the student community,” he said.

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