The recent developments in education has been enormous especially in higher learning. Secondary and primary schools are still lagging behind but this can be attributed to low technological influx especially in developing countries. For higher education institutions (colleges and universities), those who have been able to utilize the freely available open resources have unlocked the doors to unlimited knowledge. Today, the onset of free online courses have been a big step towards democratizing education and increasing knowledge.
Some of these free online courses are offered by real colleges and universities from developed countries. Others are offered by different people, organizations and institutions which aim to contribute towards the spread of education beyond the traditional classroom.
A unique and notable institution which must be mentioned when talking about free university education is the University of the People (UoPeople).
The UoPeople offers two tracks that a student may enroll in: computer science and business administration. Both are offered for associate-level and bachelor-level. A student who initially decides to take an associate-level track may proceed to a bachelor-level degree as the courses are ladderized.
The university is totally tuition-free. Hence, students only need to pay for application fees and examination fees. Even then, the student may not need to pay those in full because the required amounts are adjusted depending on the country residence of the student. In some cases where the student still can’t pay despite the discount, the student may apply for a certain scholarship so these fees may be waived.
To me, this institution represents the epitome of free university education.
Many other different institutions have joined and together created Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These MOOCs are freely available for anyone who has the desire to learn. Certificates are available for most, if not all, of these online courses. These give some people a chance to be certified in a particular skill and add more qualifications to their current portfolio without having to leave their jobs to be able to attend classes.
Some of these MOOC creators are even prominent universities such as MIT, Harvard, Stanford and Yale.
This is a clear testimony to the world’s desire to make education accessible to all.
We can only say that, in the future, more higher education institutions will be willing to participate in the democratization of higher education and we have the UoPeople to thank for that. One of the first to adapt free online education and, to date, the only university bold enough to take the risk of becoming a free online educational institution.