University of California’s Transparency Issues in Online Courses

The University of California (UC) system has been scrutinized for its lack of transparency in online courses, particularly in its relationships with online program managers (OPMs).

Audit Findings

A state audit reviewed 30 of UC’s 51 contracts with OPMs, finding incomplete and misleading information at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara. Issues included overstated course value and unclear OPM involvement.

University of California’s Transparency Issues in Online Courses

Key Issues

  1. Contract Loopholes: UC’s president’s guidance against tuition revenue sharing excluded graduate and continuing education students.
  2. OPM Transparency: UC’s nondegree programs often did not disclose OPM teaching roles.
  3. Course and Instructor Approval: Inconsistent processes in approving courses and instructors, and lack of student evaluations for OPM courses at some campuses.

Response and Recommendations

UC acknowledged the need for better transparency and committed to implementing recommendations by June 2025. These include explicit disclosures about OPM involvement and better approval processes for courses and instructors.

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The audit emphasizes the need for UC to enhance transparency and oversight in its online programs, ensuring alignment with state and federal guidelines and maintaining educational integrity.


What did the audit find about UC’s online course transparency?

The audit found incomplete and misleading information in UC’s contracts with online program managers.

Which UC campuses were reviewed in the audit?

UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara.

What are OPMs, and why are they important in this context?

OPMs (Online Program Managers) assist universities in managing online courses, often sharing tuition revenue for their services.

What steps will UC take to address the audit findings?

UC plans to implement better transparency measures, including explicit disclosures and improved approval processes for courses and instructors by June 2025.

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