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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Shai Reshef: Online learning is the future of education | Interviews -

Shai Reshef  
Photo: UoPeople
Shai Reshef is the President of University of the People (UoPeople) - the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, U.S. accredited online academic institution which provides access to collegiate-level studies to qualified individuals regardless of geographic, financial or societal constraints.

An educational entrepreneur, Reshef has over 25 years of experience in the international education market.

Mediamax had an exclusive interview with Shai Reshef, Founder & President at University of the People, during his visit to Armenia last week. The main purpose of his visit was participating in Nas Daily’s new episode and meeting with UoPeople Armenian students.

Narine Daneghyan talks to Shai Reshef

University of the People is operating for 9 years already. What impact did it have during these years on the global education system?

What we are doing more than anything else is building a model to show that quality education can be affordable and accessible to everyone. By now we have 15,000 students. Some of our students are coming from very difficult backgrounds and have no other opportunity for higher education. So the university makes a big difference in their lives. 

In some countries like the USA, education is still expensive. At the same time in other places there aren’t enough seats available for everyone. For example, in Nigeria every year 1.5 million people pass the university entrance exam which means they can study. But there are available seats for only 500,000. So 1 million students are left out every year. We are saying that there is an online solution to this problem. We want to show the world that  higher education can be for everyone. 

Do you think at this moment online universities have better performance than the traditional ones?

It depends. Some traditional universities are not very good and online can be much better. But online learning is not always the best solution for everyone because some students really need face-to-face interaction which they can’t get online. For others it’s comfortable to study online. So it really depends.

Take for example, refugees. Either they study with us or they don’t study at all. For all those people we are a great solution. 

We are a tuition-free university. All we ask the students is to pay only a USD 100 assessment fee at the end of each course (USD 200 in the MBA). One year of study (10 courses) costs USD 1,000, and a four-year bachelor’s degree is only USD 4,000. For students who have financial difficulties, the university offers a variety of scholarships, because our mission states that no qualified student will be left behind for financial reasons.

As we are in many cases better than traditional universities, people start to think why should they pay around USD 30,000 when they can pay USD 4000 and get education from professors coming from top universities in the world. 

The best traditional universities will always be there. Studying in Harvard now costs USD 300 000, including living expenses. But if Harvard one day decides to charge USD 1 mln a year, they will still have enough students.