Study at University of the People: Is it worth it? 15 Things You Need to Know
Before you decide to go study at University of the People, the supposed first online university, be sure to read this to the end.
Not everyone has the time and resources to attend a regular university. There are lots of professionals today who would like to further their education but cannot leave their jobs to do that. There are also those who due to family commitments cannot leave their home for school.
Time and resource limitation is not the only incentive behind the popularity of online universities. A lot of advantages come with studying online. For example, you can choose from a wide range of programs that may not be available in universities around you or even within the country. You will be able to learn at your own pace in most cases – that is, freeing yourself of the biggest drawbacks of a traditional university where you are required to progress alongside the class regardless of how slow or fast.
While it will be great to enjoy all the benefits of attaining a degree online, this can also lead to regrets later. There are online degrees that are world-class. Most of such degrees are offered by established traditional universities around the world. Degrees that are not awarded by regular universities will have no recognition in most countries. Companies look upon such programs as diploma or degree mills, and this makes it difficult to find employment. You will be competing against thousands of job seekers who have graduated from regular well known universities against whom your chances will be quite slim.
In this article we will discuss one of the most popular online universities today known as UoPeople aka University of the People. We will look at ten things this university and its critics and students say about UoPeople. The article concludes with our verdict on the worthiness of UoPeople.
ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE
It is a virtual university started in 2009 by an Israeli entrepreneur known as Shai Reshef. Its stated mission is to provide tuition-free education for people around the world. Their stated target seems to be the underprivileged or overcommitted. They are accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission in the USA. According to them, there are over 20 thousand students enrolled.
15 Reasons to Join UoPeople You Need to Know About
Want to earn your education at an accredited, online and tuition-free university? Read more about the 15 reasons to join UoPeople for an educational revolution.
As technology progresses, education is changing for the better. Back in 2009, one man had the vision to provide affordable, accessible and quality higher education to anyone around the world. That man, President and Founder Shai Reshef, created University of the People. With over 18,500 students who have studied to earn their degree at the accredited online American university comes a new hope that solidifies how education can and should be a human right for all.
Maybe you’ve heard about UoPeople before or maybe this is the first time you’ve come across it. In any event, here are 15 reasons why UoPeople could be an opportunity for you, a friend or a loved one to change their life!
Here is a short video of the reasons to study at UoPeople:
Did you know that on average, top-tier American universities can cost about $60,000 per year? At University of the People, no student will ever be turned away because of their inability to pay for school. For starters, education is tuition-free, which means that the only costs associated with getting your degree is an application fee and course assessment fees. For example, it’s possible to earn your MBA for as little as about $2,400.
2. 100% Online
Thanks to technology and the internet, UoPeople is 100% online. Classes can even be taken on a mobile phone, anywhere and at any time. The only necessity for a desktop or laptop is for an exam. This means that school is totally flexible and students can set their schedule around their learning as they choose when to log on.
3. Diversity of Students
With students from over 200 countries and territories, UoPeople is breaking down geographical barriers and connecting people like never before. Regardless of where one resides, access to education is online so that physical limitations don’t play a factor in hindering one’s learning potential.
4. Small Class Sizes
With the ability to focus and work at your own pace, the classes are designed to be small as well to promote interaction between students. Students receive one-on-one attention from professors digitally, as well as a dedicated advisor to assist with whatever they may need throughout their journey to earn their degree. The small class sizes also mean that students are able to interact with one another and truly learn from each other.
5. Pedagogical Model
Speaking of learning from one another, the diversity and openness of thoughts is made stronger through the pedagogical model. Classes are overseen by course instructors, but students play a pivotal role in the learning process. There are peer-to-peer reviews where students grade one another, as well as an online forum in which discussions occur. The transfer of knowledge, ideas and perspectives makes UoPeople’s learning model one-of-a-kind.
6. Multiple Degree Programs
Offering the most highly sought after and in-demand degrees, UoPeople offers options to earn Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The four degree programs include Health Science, Computer Science, Education and Business Administration.
7. Quality of Education
The academic leadership teams hail from some of the most noteworthy institutions from around the world. These leaders volunteer their time, making up a network of about 1,000 volunteers who are helping to change the way education works globally. Furthermore, they serve as mentors and offer letters of recommendation for students to land internships and jobs in the field they so choose.
8. Accredited American University
Accreditation is of top concern when choosing where to study. Accreditation means that a third and independent party has audited the school to ensure it delivers on its promises. It is the primary means of ensuring educational quality in America. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) accredited UoPeople and the school is approved to operate by the State of California.
9. Low Barrier to Entry
In an effort to provide educational access to all, UoPeople does not have a minimum GPA requirement nor does it require the GRE or standardized testing. Recognizing that students come from all different walks of life and have different access to education, UoPeople simply requires that a prospective student provides proof of completion of high school, as well as the ability to speak English proficiently as all coursework is in English.
10. Designed for Employability
Each degree program is created and designed by advisory boards who create a curriculum geared towards employability. The educators and professionals come together to ensure that courses are structured in a manageable way to allow for students to get the most out of the classes so that the knowledge is applicable when they enter the workforce.
11. University Partnerships
UoPeople has academic partnerships with top-notch universities that allow for the transfer of credits should a student choose to complete their degree at a traditional university like New York University, University of California, Berkeley and University of Edinburgh. Additionally, the Master’s of Education was made in partnership with the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB is a global leader in the provision of high-quality, accessible programs for K-12 students. Offered by almost 5,000 schools in more than 150 countries, IB programs encourage both personal growth and academic achievement. The IB requirement to attend a Category 1 Workshop is waived for qualified graduates of the M.Ed. program.
12. Scholarships are Available
Although the fees are relatively low, there are still options for financial aid in the form of scholarships. At UoPeople, there are 9 different scholarships offered. These range from scholarships offered to children who were adopted, provided by the Simone Biles Legacy Scholarship Fund, to the scholarships for Brazilian women, funded by the Botari Women’s Scholarship Fund. There are also scholarships for refugees. The availability of scholarships to cover the relatively low fees further support the idea that money should never hinder one’s ability to earn their education.
13. Refugee Assistance
Like money, the political status of one’s home country should not affect their access to education. Although the latter fact is an ideal, UoPeople has made great strides in making this a reality with refugee assistance. Starting with Haiti and the Clinton Global Initiative, UoPeople invited 250 refugees who suffered the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake to attend school for free. Then, in 2015, 500 Syrian refugees were welcomed to UoPeople. Now, over 600 Syrian refugees learn at UoPeople.
14. The Pope, the UN, and the White House Support UoPeople
From the United Nations to the White House and Pope Francis himself, notable figures continue to support the mission of UoPeople. Throughout its history, major names have helped to spread the word and share all that UoPeople offers because it is truly revolutionizing education.
15. Knowledge is Power
UoPeople believes that education as a human right should be universal. That’s why UoPeople continues to take steps to revolutionize education for today and the future.
Around the world, access to higher education translates to higher GDP, more safe countries, increased opportunity, and the creation of positive change and innovation that will ultimately help to accomplish world peace.
WHAT DO STUDENTS AND CRITICS SAY ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE?
There have been many negative reactions towards most claims made by the UoPeople. Some from critics and others from students of this virtual institution. Some of these criticisms are based on facts. We will examine the most common ones. A link will be provided towards the end that will give you more information about these claims made by UoPeople.
- First of all, a lot of students after taking a course are of the opinion that the university’s claim of free-tuition is false, unethical and deceptive. They feel tricked into joining the program because the cost was not explicitly stated in the advert they received or read before signing up. Some even claimed they weren’t able to graduate due to financial problems, and would not have signed up had the university been transparent about costs associated with the studies. The university charges a fee for every test a student takes, and there are many tests. The fee is $100 for undergraduates and $200 for graduates.
A student must spend about $4000 for undergraduate degree and $2400 for graduate degree. Take note also that there is a signup fee of $60. It means if you cannot pay $60, you will not be allowed to join, likewise if you are unable to pay a test-fee. If one reads the content on the homepage of this university, you get the impression that it will be $0 to take the course. It would have been more transparent if they declared right away that you should expect to spend up to $4060 before graduating with a B.Sc. if you are a prospective student and cannot afford to spend this amount for a degree, steer clear of UoPeople.
- Several critics have taken aim at UoPeople for its claim of quality. First they point out that the UoPeople has no physical address in the USA, but describes itself an American accredited university based in the USA. These critics rightly point out that instead of paying for a virtual address in the US the university should have used a physical address in Israel where it is really located. They claim that the university is run by Israelis with a few employees of other nationals.
- Also, regarding the accreditation claim, critics say that the accrediting body, DEAC has little respect in the USA. Besides, it only accredits distance learning institutions or courses. Critics note that the best accreditation organizations in the USA are mostly regional and none of these have accredited UoPeople. This means that UoPeople remains largely unrecognized in the US. The other serious issue with quality is that some students say that their assignments are not marked by tutors; instead the university relies on what it calls peer-assessment. Students will grade one another’s assignment. Some students say they got a zero because a fellow student forgot to grade their assignment, others complain that they were unfairly marked by students who do not understand English well and could not fully comprehend the assignments. According one student, this occurs almost with every assignment she had submitted.
Another big issue with UoPeople is that the only means of communication between a student and the department is via email and most of the time, staffs do not check their mail early enough to provide any meaningful help to a student.
- Finally, critics point out that a claim by UoPeople of coordination with the United Nations has been rebuffed by the United Nations itself. They provide this link as proof. According to them, UoPeople is lying deliberately in order to convince prospective applicants that it is a world-class institution equivalent to any other degree. UoPeople also claims worldwide recognition. This is clearly false because they are not recognized even in Africa, let alone other developed countries. Nigeria and South Africa in particular have stated that they will not accept degrees from such institutions. Check this page for what South Africa thinks of UoPeople.
SO IS IT WORTH IT STUDYING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE?
University of the People is far more deceptive than it seems. They create an urgent impression to cost you nothing or very little. They do not disclose just how much a degree will cost you. Their messages show too much desperation for an institution that is driven by solely non-profit motives. For example, you find up to three “APPLY” buttons on their website and every sentence you read tends to urge you to sign up. Their many press releases appear to be aggressively advertising the institution. Costs associated with each program are rather shrouded in secrecy.
If you want a degree certificate that will be useful to you, kindly keep away from this institution. If you are not willing to spend $4000 or $2400 plus $60, never sign up to any of their programs. If you want the knowledge more than the certificate, there are many free alternatives that provide better quality. Many students say UoPeople uses materials from other real universities provided freely to the public.
You can sign up with Khan Academy to get a degree-level knowledge in many courses. All for free, especially science and computer-related courses. I used this website to understand a lot of Mathematical and Computer science concepts I could not understand in School. There are many other free alternatives with certification. Rather than spend $4060 for a highly controversial degree, particularly if you are from Africa, just attend a real college or institution near you. If time does not permit this, you can join the National Open University of your country or sign up for a free program online. While you may be enticed by UoPeople’s offer of a degree, do not forget that institutions like these are considered by most employers as Degree Mills. You will also be competing against students from a real degree-awarding institution, and there are thousands of such students whose qualification will command more respect than anything UoPeople can give you. Click this link to read further about the UoPeople.