Volunteers make UoPeople work. Since 2014, the number of volunteers — like the number of students — has grown dramatically. “We now have 17,000 volunteers working many roles at the university,” says Reshef, who is based in New York. “I myself am a volunteer for this university. All of the people come because of the mission. They feel there are so many people that deserve education but do not have the opportunity. We say all should have the right.”
With such a sizable volunteer base, the student-to-faculty ratio is excellent: 14 to one. Currently there are just over 44,000 students attending UoPeople, and Reshef projects attendance to more than double next year — reaching not 88,000 but 100,000 students, in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Because of the pandemic, students attending traditional university have switched to online learning and some have taken a leave of absence,” Reshef says. “Some have put their education on hold because their parents are unemployed and can’t pay for their education. Others that have been laid off are seeking higher education to strengthen their skills and earn more credentials to move up in their field, or to change their career paths. For many of them, we are the perfect solution.”
PROGRAMS ARE ‘MOST LIKELY TO HELP OUR STUDENTS FIND A JOB’
UoPeople’s academic calendar structure offers flexibility to incoming students — ideal for those eager to earn a degree in pandemic times while working, studying elsewhere, homeschooling children, or all of the above. Students do not have to begin studying with UoPeople at the arbitrary beginning of a semester, as they might at traditional universities; instead, they can begin their degree at the start of any of five terms. At this writing, the next intake was set to begin on October 22.
UoPeople offers degrees under four umbrellas: Business Administration, Computer Science, Health Science, and Education. Their most popular program is the BBA, which about half of the students have undertaken. The next most popular program is the MBA, with 7,700 currently enrolled. The school may offer additional programs in the future along with demand, Reshef says, but there are no current plans to do so. He says he intentionally limited the programs from the start.
“We chose the programs that we chose because they are most likely to help our students find a job,” he says. “Having few programs enables us to be efficient. There are not a lot of electives, there are not a lot of extracurricular activities. No football team, gym, or counselors — and intentionally. This allows us to concentrate on what we do. Students get a good education, but not much more than that.”
It helps students that they begin taking courses with no financial risk whatsoever. After ann application fee of $60, they don’t pay a cent until they finish their first course, and are then asked to pay an assessment fee: $240 for graduate students, $120 for undergrads.
The university is “tuition-free,” but students must pay small fees for courses and assessments. The MBA degree from UoPeople costs $2,880, and an undergrad degree is $4,800. The fees, reallocated to instructors to show gratitude for their time, keep the university operational, Reshef says. Scholarships are available for students in acute financial need.
The cost difference of a degree from UoPeople is significant when compared to traditional universities. At Arizona State University, for example, an out-of-state student typically pays $4,000 for one course. For students familiar with these costs — see the tuition and other costs associated with attending a top-25 B-school — the idea of earning an MBA degree for nearly the same cost as one of their courses is simply unthinkable.
‘STUDENTS WRITE TO US & SAY WE HAVE SAVED THEIR LIVES’
Students attending UoPeople hail from every country in the world, with the most diverse circumstances and backgrounds imaginable. A significant number are, or have been, refugees, homeless, and undocumented. UoPeople places importance on students receiving support in every way, Reshef says, knowing they may come from inequitable circumstances.
“Each student is paired with an adviser to guide them through their degree and help them with anything they need and act as a ‘big brother.’ They are there with them every step of the way,” Reshef says. The university also boasts peer-to-peer learning: With students engaged in learning each other’s unique perspectives, professor labor time is reduced, which is critical to enabling the university to operate at a low cost.
For those skeptical about the legitimacy of UoPeople, Reshef says all you need to do a bit of digging. “You do your research. You simply look at who is behind it, what their accreditations are,” he says. The school’s advisory board members are listed on the website, and include academics and practitioners from NYU, Yale, UC-Berkeley, Oxford, and elsewhere. The university’s partners and accreditations are found on the home page of the website.
UoPeople has recently earned more credibility from a new publication by StuDocu, a platform used by over 15 million students that provides open access to study tools. Through StuDocu’s crowdsourcing study of more than 20,000 students, UoPeople was ranked under the top 10 universities for best remote-learning capabilities. Reshef was taken aback when he found out.
“I didn’t know UoPeople was even considered for this study,” he says. “It was incredible! It goes to show that students really love the university and the programs, the students, speak for themselves.”
Reshef is fully dedicated to continuing the mission of his university: to offer affordable, quality, online degree-granting educational programs to any qualified student. “A friend once said to me, ‘When you give, you will get so much more back.’ Students write to us and say we have saved their lives. You open the future for them, and what can be better than that? I get so much satisfaction. I’m the happiest person on Earth.”
For information about UoPeople, visit its website by clicking here.
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