University offers tuition-free education

Weekender
EDUCATION

By THOMAS HUKAHU
LAST week, I shared two stories about how a college and a nation tried a different mode of delivering university education to students who were actually working people.
One, the main story, was about how a Bible college in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, which is reaching out to pastors in Port Moresby city and elsewhere in the nation, those who wanted to upgrade their diploma in Bible studies to a degree.
The other story was about a nation in the Pacific who partnered with a university here in Papua New Guinea to have their teachers study for their bachelor’s degree in education.
In both cases, lecturers flew in to where the students where and taught them for a number of weeks and then left.
The students returned to their normal working routines but continued to study their course material and completed their assignments after their normal working hours.
In that way, the students need not leave their work or families and travel to another city or nation to complete their studies, lecturers flew to where they were and taught them and then kept in touch with them thereafter by distance mode while the scholars complete the rest of their courses for a semester.
This week, I am going to share with you an institution which is leading the world in offering “free education” to students all over the globe.

Today’s challenges in university education
University education is not easily accessible to the majority of people who may possess the required grades to start on a diploma or degree programme.
The high fees prevent those who are bright but lack sufficient funds from entering a university and obtaining better skills and knowledge that would make them more effective in what they plan to do.
The location of a university, as in being too far from a student’s locality, can hinder the person from accessing tertiary education.
Some students may feel uncomfortable learning a town away from their own.
Our nation, PNG, itself is facing a challenge that many educators talk about.
In a recent event, a lecturer stated that of the 33,0000 Grade 12 students sitting for the exams this year, only 5,000 or so will secure places in universities or colleges to access higher education.
The space limitation in our national institutions prevents more students from accessing tertiary education.
One might think: If we can find a way to overcome the hurdles of high fees, the distance factor and space limitation, would it be possible that we can educate more people?
Actually, one university has done that. I learned about that university a few years ago.

University offers tuition free education
Can you imagine a university offering tertiary education with no high fees charged and any student anywhere in the world (in Africa, South America, Europe or PNG) can enroll and start on a study programme without worrying about additional costs as well as in paying for a ticket to fly half-way around the world to access education?
Well, the University of the People (UoPeople) is paving the way for such an opportunity for other institutions in the world to follow.
UoPeople is described as an American non-profit distance education institution of higher education.
On its website, UoPeople states:
“University of the People (UoPeople) is the Education Revolution.
It is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American accredited online university.
Dedicated to opening access to higher education globally, UoPeople is designed to help qualified high school graduates overcome financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from collegiate studies.

The logo of the University of the People, an institution that is charging almost nothing to educate students.

The University offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, and health science as well as master’s degree programs in business administration and education.
UoPeople was founded in 2009 and accredited in February 2014.
Today, it has over 20,000 students enrolled from more than 200 countries and territories. 1,000 of these students are refugees, of whom 600 are Syrian.”
University of the People is tuition fee free, but students must pay some administrative costs to cover course assessment fees.
The assessment fees range from $60-$200, depending on the study programme chosen.

Universities partner with UoPeople
UoPeople was founded by Shai Reshef in 2009.
Reshef is described by Wikipedia as an Israeli educational entrepreneur.
He decided to offer computer science and business courses because he said those two fields are in demand in today’s world.
His work with another organisation prior to 2009 where some education was delivered to students gave him the idea of providing “free university education” to students.
All the students need is internet connection and they can study from anywhere in the world.
The students do not attend classes by going to a campus.
They learn from wherever they are.

University of the People (UoPeople) is the Education Revolution.
It is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American accredited online university.
Today, it has over 20,000 students
enrolled from more than 200 countries and territories. 1,000 of these students are refugees, of whom 600 are Syrian.

All course material would be supplied by UoPeople.
When it is exam time, the small fee paid will help take care of costs that may arise as a result of the assessment exercise.
Other top universities in the world, like University of Berkley, have partnered with UoPeople to deliver education to those who want it.
In 2017 the University of Edinburgh partnered with the school so that graduates of the University of the People could complete a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree at the university. The u
The university is now in its 10th year and continues to offer its programmes to students all over the world.

The future in mind
It is likely that more universities in the world would in the future also offer such valuable education where tuition will be free (or almost free) and more people can access tertiary education.
Currently, if you visit the websites of many top universities in the world, you would notice that some programmes they offer are only done online.
That means students from any part of the world can enroll, pay the fees and do those courses – they do not have to fly to a campus to study.
It is hoped that in the future some of those students can lower their fees too to reach out to more people who want to upgrade their skills or gain more knowledge in a particular field.

Next week: An institute that attracts physics students.

  • Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.

One thought on “University offers tuition-free education

  • I work with a non profit organization that train teachers, accompany schools and school leavers to study 2 years on basic topics and after graduation they become promoters of community well being then served in their own localities. I feel that you university may able partner with this organization to carry out this ever advancing civilization.
    We based in Papua new Guinea but our head quarter based in Israel. Bahai world center. Haifa.

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