University of the People: Applications for Tuition-Free Education Open Now

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If you are thinking of pursuing an online education but the cost is making you more than a little apprehensive you might consider studying a tuition-free online degree from the University of the People (UoPeople). Founded in 2009 by Shai Reshef and affiliated with the likes of the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations GAID (The Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development), to date UoPeople have accepted more than 1,500 students from 132 countries for their online degree courses.

UoPeople certainly seems to have captured the imagination of world leaders in education and employment. Almost 3,000 volunteers have put themselves forward to help drive the idea forward. These volunteers include academics from educational institutions such as Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Columbia. Businesses including Hewlett-Packard are also on board. Reshef has received a number of awards for his work with UoPeople. In 2010 the Huffington Post named him “The Ultimate Game Changer in Education” and he was also nominated for the “Smart List 2012: 50 People Changing the World” (Wired Magazine).

What courses are offered?

UoPeople currently offers four undergraduate degree programs across two programs of study: Business Administration and Computer Science.

– Associate of Science Degree – Business Administration
– Bachelor of Science Degree – Business Administration
– Associate of Science Degree – Computer Science
– Bachelor of Science Degree – Computer Science

What are the costs involved?

UoPeople is a tuition-free university so you won’t need to worry about extortionate course fees. Indeed, the only cost associated with studying one of their online degree courses is a one-time application processing fee of between $10 and £50 depending on your place of residence. You can find out how much you will pay by consulting the UoPeople Enrollment agreement. Fees of $100 per end of course exam are also levied. The basic premise of UoPeople is that finance should not be a barrier to education for anyone, so a Micro-Scholarship Portal is available for those students who may have difficulty meeting these fees. There are no fees involved for required learning materials with everything provided via the website.

Should you go for it?

Perhaps the only thing that might be of concern to some people is that despite it’s high level partnerships in education and industry, UoPeople is not an accredited institution. Although the application process for accreditation is underway, it may be the case that students starting one of their online degree programs now may finish their studies without an accredited degree. Should that stop you from going for it? Probably not. An education is an education and many employers will value the fact that you have pursued one when it might otherwise have been difficult for you to have done so.

Distance learning is certainly a growing trend in the U.S. and indeed across the world. According to the 2011 Survey of Online Learning conducted by Babson Research Group, there are now more than six million people learning online. UoPeople is capitalising on this trend and they seem to be doing it well. According to their site, “of students polled consecutively each term, 95% would recommend UoPeople to a peer.” That seems like a glowing recommendation in anyone’s book, so it is definitely an option worth considering.

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