Many people want a free education or a free online education. Thankfully, free education resources can be found quite readily because of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. OER are resources, lectures and courses that established universities, such as MIT, Stanford or Berkeley, provide for free online. These courses do not provide credit – they represent the free dissemination of knowledge for the betterment of mankind.
However, many individuals need beyond just free knowledge – they need the right credentials and experience to compete in today’s job market. A significant number of employers not only demand that their employees possess the requisite knowledge and skills, but that they also hold relevant degrees.
The tuition-free, nonprofit, online academic institution, University of the People (UoPeople), is part of the Open Educational Resources movement and utilizes open educational content in all courses. The nonprofit UoPeople was created in order to provide quality collegiate education at low expense, so individuals in need around the world can overcome financial, geographic, or societal constraints and attain higher education. Its mission is straightforward in purpose – to assist in the democratization and global advancement of higher education worldwide.
What makes UoPeople unique is that it takes Open Educational Resources, gives them to course designers who modify and enhance course materials, then adds in excellent instructors, peer to peer learning, a grading system, student services support, and other benefits found in a university to provide fully developed tuition-free degree programs. Thus, in order for the non-profit UoPeople to remain sustainable and provide for degree courses complete with student support, there are nominal fees charged to cover the expenses incurred by the University. Currently, there is only a one-time application processing fee charged. End-of-course examination processing fees will be charged in the future. UoPeople remains dedicated to the democratization of higher education, and as such, UoPeople works hard to ensure financial limitations do not inhibit any qualified student from attending, and offers University Grants to individuals for the application processing fee. The University Grants provided allow the actual fee charged to be on a sliding scale ($10 - $50), based on the economic situation of the applicant’s place of residence. Additional supplemental grants are further offered for individuals in extreme need, and these grants are fully supported from fundraising efforts and donations given to the University’s Scholarship Fund. To donate to the Scholarship Fund, please see: http://www.uopeople.org/groups/donate_money
Currently, University of the People offers the following four tuition-free undergraduate degrees: Associate (A.S.-B.A.) and Bachelor (B.S.-B.A.) degrees in Business Administration and Associate (A.S.-C.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.-C.S.) degrees in Computer Science.
In summation, UoPeople has a tuition-free model whereby there is no charge for the cost of instruction, books, teachers or annual enrollment. However, UoPeople offers full degree programs, tuition-free, and is not what can be classified as totally free education or free online education courses. Free education, or free online education, is what can be found within the open educational resource movement. Open Educational Resources (OER) enable individuals everywhere to study and learn topics of interest for free but without credit. UoPeople encourages everyone to look at Open Educational Resources if curious about taking a course here or there for free online without credit, and for the next step, look at University of the People if interested in attaining a full university education, tuition-free.