World Education University to Offer Full Programs, Degrees for Free
In the world of education, 2012 saw the rise of a brand-new acronym that has been doing much to disrupt the traditional way of getting a higher education degree: Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, for short. As multiple prestigious universities begin to launch their own MOOCs as a way of allowing anyone to gain access to their lectures and course materials, the democratization of education is about to take a giant leap forward as the World Education University announces their plans to make their programs and degrees available for free.
The WEU’s founders operate under a mission statement of providing a quality and “barrier-free” education. While its true that autodidacts could already gleefully sit-in on a Harvard lecture with other MOOCs, the WEU is taking the business of free education a step further. According to Scott Hines, President of WEU, the tuition-free university aims to allow people of any income background a shot at a BA by offering degrees at absolutely no charge. No admission fees, no cost per course, and no textbooks to buy.
“We’re passionate about disrupting the cost of education so that students can improve their socioeconomic condition,” said Hines. “That’s our secret sauce. Our team – right down to every last person – is focused on this mission of changing people’s lives. It’s not just marketing speak. It’s genuine.”
Based out of Palm Springs, the online university opened on December 1st, 2012, with a full catalogue of courses across seven departments, all of which are immediately available for enrollment. While the WEU is still awaiting full accreditation as a fully-functioning university, it operates as a degree-granting institution by acting in partnership with Excelsior College in New York, which offers evaluations and exams from between $40 to $400. So while technically still not completely free, and despite the WEU’s onsite warning that it currently cannot assure its potential students “as to if or when accreditation might be granted,” Hines hopes that this will soon change. And when and if accreditation does come, it will allow the WEU to remove all cost to the student entirely.
“We are confident, but it’s always a challenge,” says Hines. “There are some accreditation bodies that are more open than others to innovation. We have a full time staff that does nothing more but work on accreditation.”
But as Hines sees it, the need for accreditation may be on its way out as MOOCs continue to upend how higher education has traditionally operated. With the ability to get all the knowledge inherent in a particular degree without actually receiving the piece of paper, employers may soon be factoring in a potential employees skillset rather than level of education when hiring in the coming years. As a result, Hines and WEU say that their first priority is providing students with the skills required to get a job.
“We’re focused on job placement so that students have a great job lined up after they graduate,” says Hines. “We ask our students to sign a give back mission to take their education and do good in the world.”