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Online education has been a topic of debate for the past few years now. Does it really measures up to the same quality of education that you might find from attending an on-campus university? Many MOOCs have tried to answer this question, allowing students to receive a university education at the cost of nothing. Yet these courses do not come with any sort of accreditation.
This is where University of the People (UoPeople) comes in: first, accredited, non-profit, online university. Instead of forking over thousands of thousands of dollars to get that degree on your resume, for just an application fee of up to $50 dollars you can get the same thing.
What is University of the People and How Does It Work?
The purpose of UoPeople is to give students a high-quality education from an accredited university at no cost. The founder and president of the university, Shai Reshef, creates a new model of higher education that can “enhance the collective intelligence of millions that would otherwise be left behind.”
Since the university is non-profit, there has to be a way for UoPeople to earn its money… so how does it work?
Most of the work is done by volunteers. In 2014, UoPeople only had a staff of only 14 paid employees and 300 volunteers. It mostly runs on donations and from foundations, such as the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. However, there is a small catch.
While the university is free, there are a few small fees, of which the rates depend on the GDP of the country that you live in. The application fee ranges anywhere from $10 – $50. US citizens for example, since their country’s GDP is considered as high, have to pay the full $50 application fee.
Another fee that is associated with the university is the exam fee. Each time you take an exam you have to pay $100. Yet if you show financial hardship you can get this fee waived and only be left with the application fee. Even if you had to pay for each exam and for the application fee, you’re looking at a 4-year degree for roughly $4,000, a far cry from what the tuition might cost at a traditional school.
UoPeople is accessible to those all around the world and is deliberately low-tech. Students only need an internet connection to participate, but having a high-speed internet connection is not necessary and no audio or video content is present in the curriculum.
How Is The Quality Of Education?
A lot of people apply for the UoPeople mostly due to its flexibility and its free tuition. In 2014 there were only 736 active students. But if you’re looking for a job in a specific field you might be out of luck.
The university currently administers only two degrees: Computer Science and Business Administration. UoPeople is working on expanding its staff in order to support more classes, but it looks like it may take a few years before they have their next degree program up and running.
What plays an even more important role is how employers look at someone with University of the People written on their resume. Employers – if they have heard of UofPeople that is – still have a lot of skepticism toward online education. I personally believe this is in part due to the older generation still adjusting to receiving an education over the internet. Most employers still prefer on-campus degrees.
The problem is that for those employers who do know about UoPeople won’t rate it much better than those other laughable schools we’ve all heard of, specifically Devry University or University of Pheonix. Of course, this always depends on the hiring manager. However, if you’re looking to get an education at a low-cost that’s flexible, UoPeople may just be the answer for you.
For those who don’t have access to higher-education and live in third world countries, UoPeople gives those who don’t have this opportunity a fighting chance to pursue a more fulfilling career and get ahead in life.
Is It Worth Getting A Degree From UoPeople?
The quality of education doesn’t compare to some higher-ranked universities, but my personal opinion states that if you can’t afford the ridiculously, expensive tuition rates that we have today then UofPeople is a great choice.
Thousands of graduates are coming out of school jobless and a university degree doesn’t hold as much weight as it used to. This means that unless you’re going to a very high-ranked school, it’s not going to make a difference whether you attend an online university or an on-campus one.
Furthermore, UoPeople offers scholarships to underprivileged students. If you want to solely focus on your studies you can get a free tuition and have your living expenses completely paid for.
From my personal perspective, employers are going to want to hire someone who has the necessary skills that will make their company more efficient and potentially more profitable. As long as you can show value to your employer, it’s not going to matter where you went to school.
The current higher education system has failed us and is unattainable to the average citizen. UoPeople aims to fix this by giving those who did not have a chance an opportunity to intellectual achievement. This is the reason under which Shai Reshef founded the university. He provides an affordable alternative to the current education system.
Tell us your perspective on University of the People and let us know about the course material if you have experience using it. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!
My name is Jason Wuerch and I'm currently located in Madrid, Spain running a personal finance blog called Frugal For Less. My goal is to help everyone and anyone willing to make and save money through easy and simple ways that don't require much effort. Just because you're frugal doesn't mean you have to give up life's luxuries.