Online university targets to reach more students in South Africa

Shai Reshef UoPeople 1University of the People (UoPeople) has announced its plans to increase its reach amongst South African students seeking affordable, accessible and quality education

In South Africa, the university’s enrolment has skyrocketed from 13 students in 2015, to nearly 1,600 students now.

Founded on the belief that higher education is a human right, UoPeople is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American-accredited online university, which helps qualified high school graduates overcome the financial, geographic, political and personal constraints and pursue university studies. 

UoPeople’s total enrolment grew 107% in the past year, to 75,392 students, and is expected to surpass 100,000 students, from more than 200 countries by this fall – making UoPeople the fastest-growing online university in the world. 

South Africa has as many as 1.4 million individuals, who have completed secondary education, but have not been able to enrol in a bachelor’s degree programme, due to limited seats or financial constraints.

As a result of the pandemic, international markets have seen massive changes, with many universities developing online programmes that is being called-- the post-pandemic future of education.

Majority of universities in South Africa have moved to an online platform. However, the move is still falling short of providing enough educational opportunities to South Africa’s missing middle student demographic.

UoPeople’s is flexible and affordable, especially for those missing middle students, who cannot afford university education, but are above the income threshold to qualify for governmental funding. These students are generally considered middle-class, with household incomes between US$8204 to US$41,021 per annum(approx). While traditional on-campus bachelor’s degrees can cost approximately US$10,255(approx), a bachelor’s degree from UoPeople will cost roughly US$4717(approx), reducing the total cost by more than 50%.

The University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor, prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, serves on the President’s Council of the University of the People, together with presidents and vice chancellors coming from the best universities in the world. “I am very proud of the quality of UoPeople and its achievements to date. The university is building a great model that can solve Africa’s higher education crisis, lack of seats and, in many cases, lack of quality,” said Phakeng. UCT recently launched South Africa’s first online secondary school for grades 8-12.

UoPeople is the university that makes higher education accessible to local students, removing barriers to their success and empowering them to achieve,” says university president Shai Reshef. “We are happy for students who have succeeded in securing seats in local universities; however, UoPeople was created to accommodate all qualified students, not simply the few,” he added.

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