After introducing a distance learning Bachelor of Electronic Commerce (BECom), Monash University in Australia is facing possible legal action from students outraged over the withdrawal of resources from the course.

With an average cost of over AU$3000 per year for a normal workload, students are angry that despite being happy to accept the money, the University is unable to allocate adequate resources. After the ecommerce staff left halfway through the semester, one graduate student says that currently two lecturers are overseeing eleven subjects. The student, Jeff Robson, says that the University "has not replaced (the staff who left) with sufficient resources to handle the workload."

"Many students have been very disappointed with the standard of education received and the lack of communication from the school," he said. Other negative comments have been posted by a number of students on the University ecommerce newsgroup.

An initial proposal outlining details for the future degree, written in 1998, suggests that funding for the course was assured for at least three years, but Robson believes the subject was very poorly organised with no tutoring from lecturers at all in the previous semester. He is particularly unimpressed with lecture notes being "primarily photocopies of articles from 1996."

With the Internet moving so fast, such material is unacceptable from any educational institution, let alone an established and respected university.

The University's School of Electronic Commerce Website addresses the problems and notes that new teaching staff will be "fully involved by the beginning of 2000", but reports that moves to appoint a chair of ecommerce (one of the key recommendations of the 1998 proposal) have been "put on hold" may be enough for students to realise that everything isn't quite as OK as the University would have them believe...