Should Colleges Sell Ads to Pay for New Technology?

This might upset you: You log onto your university library Web site to research a history assignment, and alongside the literature citations there is an ad for Dell computers or Microsoft Office or several books from university presses.

It’s not happening yet, but it’s one scenario pictured by Martin Weller this week in his post on the blog The Ed Techie as he wonders how to pay for technology that students and universities need.

Mr. Weller, a professor of educational technology at Open University in the U.K., starts with the now-accepted fact that funding is flat, yet demands and costs for technology in education keep going up. How, then, to pay for it?

— Ads on university sites?
— Charging students for tech support or accreditation?
— Giving students government-subsidized vouchers?
— Charging companies, not students, for professional development courses?

Mr. Weller is not recommending (or disavowing) these strategies, but he suggests they may not be avoidable. “Even putting the words business and education in the same sentence is heresy for some, and yet I think we will face some very difficult choices in this area,” he says.—Josh Fischman

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