University of the People is a non-profit organization devoted to providing universal access to quality, online post-secondary education to qualified students. The vision of University of the People is grounded in the belief that universal access to education is a key ingredient in the promotion of world peace and global economic development.
University of the People is a tuition-free (as yet unaccredited) online school offering associates and bachelors degrees in business management and computer science. Students are English-speaking high school graduates from all over the world – and they go through a standard university application process, including submission of transcripts and essay questions.
At present, the school has completed three academic years (since opening in 2009), there are over 1300 students enrolled, and unfortunately no data has yet been released concerning graduation and placement rates. The only cost to students are a $100 examination fee due at the end of each completed class (although donations and scholarships are available to cover this). That’s $2200 for a bachelor’s degree, compared with $38,000 at my local public university, or $142,400 from my private university alma mater.
As for the academic integrity of the school, the faculty are experienced academics hailing from such prestigious institutions as Yale Law School, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and New York University. The school is backed by the United Nations Academic Impact initiative, Hewlett Packard, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Yale University.
Given that the school is currently unaccredited, would this be a worthwhile risk for those seeking alternatives to traditional educational models?
This is definitely an institution to watch, and I’m particularly interested to see graduation and retention rates for a school in which students are invested for the sake of their futures, but not financially.