Wooldridge does have a point regarding the "future" of education:
A few years ago a report by Coopers & Lybrand crowed that online education could eliminate the two biggest costs from higher education: "The first is the need for bricks and mortar; traditional campuses are not necessary. The second is full-time faculty. [Online] learning involves only a small number of professors, but has the potential to reach a huge market of students." That is nonsense. The human touch is much more vital to higher education than is high technology. Education is not just about transmitting a body of facts, which the internet does pretty well. It is about learning to argue and reason, which is best done in a community of scholars.
There is a simpler way to state this: Education is for the whole person, not just the skills and knowledge imparted bit by bit in specific learning experiences. Until "distance learning" can replicate the community aspects of educationmeaning not just opportunities to ask the professor questions after class, but to interact extensively with other studentsit is going to remain limited to skills and knowledge imparted bit by bit. It will not be worthless; neither can it replace in-person education.
- As used in Wooldridge's article, "tuition" means "the process of teaching," not (as I am using the term, consistent with American practice) fees charged individual students so that they can engage in that process of teaching. The closest English equivalent to the latter is the "top-up fee," but even that is not quite the same thing.