Free education is being made a reality by online degrees

12:59 SAVS 0 Comments

you can now get a free accredited degree online

Over the past couple of years the #FeesMustFall movement for free education has taken South Africa by storm receiving widespread media and political attention. We do not have free education yet at our public universities, so what can someone without the money to enrol at a traditional university study without getting into hundreds of thousands of rands worth of debt?

In the past I would have said they should study via correspondence at one of the higher education institutions that offer accredited qualifications via correspondence such as UNISA. This is the cheaper option but Unisa does not cover all careers, as some careers are only attainable through traditional universities.

Are online degrees the solution?

Last week I came across an article announcing that there was a new university launching in South Africa that would offer free education. This university is called the University of the People (UoPeople), they are an online university that offer business administration, computer science, health sciences degrees and even an MBA program.

According to UoPeople “UoPeople is licensed by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) of the State of California, United States, and accredited by the U.S. Department of Education-recognized Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). We enroll 10,199 students from over 200 countries”, so if earning a degree is really important to you and you have no other ways of getting funding, getting an online degree might be the right option for you.

Some careers such as marketing and advertising do not require you to have a university qualification, they focus on skills and experience more than tertiary education especially digital marketing. Which means you can go and work straight out of matric and then study part-time to gain qualifications or upskill. Careers in IT are in demand in South Africa and if you have a sharp mind and access to a computer you can actually teach yourself how to program, here is a list of places where you can learn how to code online without actually attending a university for free:

I have been noticing that a lot of universities especially overseas have been offering courses online, some for free without getting a degree, some you get a degree but you have to pay. Unisa is also trying to streamline all its processes by moving to online based learning instead of the traditional mail system (which is prone to delays).

Although I like this move to digital learning, I do not think that online learning would be beneficial to the majority of the population who do not have computers and internet access, data is very expensive here in South Africa. Imagine being poor and having to watch long 45min lecture videos 5 days a week or however many times (depending on the number of courses you are enrolled in). I think free online education is a step in the right direction but it is not the solution for our problem here in SA. It will benefit some people, those with access already but the poor will still struggle to access online learning even if the education is free. 

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