Education > Cheaper university degrees from the sofa?

Posted on July 11, 2016
Original image by Serpil Genç, adapted by Matthew Nicotra

Original image by Serpil Genç, adapted by Matthew Nicotra

Matthew Nicotra reports on the rise of online universities and the effects on youth around the world

“Within the next 10 years it will be possible to do a full degree from your sofa or in a café.” This is according to the founder of an online university network.

Professor Daphne Koller is chief executive of Coursera, an Internet platform with around 20 million students studying courses from about 145 top universities around the world.

So far, online courses have been short units. However, the next stage for on line learning will be top universities offering full ‘E-degrees’. These courses will be more accessible and cheaper as, in some cases, some are completely free!

As a result of this, more underprivileged people will have the chance to take a course. For example an online course in Python programming is £253 at Coursera whereas at Leeds University it is £2,454. This is a huge difference of £2,201. With the money saved, you would be able to take approximately seven more online courses.

More underprivileged people will have the chance to take a course

Founded in California four years ago, Coursera has become one of the world’s biggest providers of ‘Massive, Open, Online, Courses’ known as ‘Moocs’.

Another online university in America named EdX is offering a range of online courses. If a student passes eight of these, costing $200 (£150) each, it counts as the equivalent of a first year at university. This is $1,600 (£1,200). This compares with the £9,000 it costs to do a degree in the UK for one year.

These courses are delivered via webcam with group or one-to-one video chat, depending on the course. Others are delivered through a website that integrates forums, instant messenger, e-mail and streaming audio and video.

Moocs will soon be widely available throughout the world. There are also efforts to use online learning to teach refugees, such as those affected by Syria’s civil war.

Moocs could also be useful in countries such as India, which have ambitious targets to expand higher education.

“The authorities will have to use online universities because there isn’t enough bricks-and-mortar institutions,” explains Professor Koller.

What I think
I think that these ‘Moocs’ are an extremely good idea as it can help people in less fortunate countries such as India to get a degree without them having to migrate. I also think that it is a good idea for people with a busy lifestyle, for example a parent, as you can do the course whenever you want and at your own pace. However, I personally wouldn’t choose to do an E-degree, as I would like to experience university and live the ‘student life’.

Matthew Nicotra
Matthew is a creative young man who has a passion for camera work, street wear fashion and skateboarding. Matthew hopes to pursue a living in the filming and fashion industry.


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5 Responses to Cheaper university degrees from the sofa?

  1. Shakira July 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi! I find MOOCs interesting as well – I learn Javascript in Kahn Academy

    I particularly feel an advantage they have is the forums. People learning can actually ask questions from other learners – which helps both of them and the future readers of the forums. Never tried Coursera… but will check it out!

  2. adasaba July 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Cheeky article, like it. I agree with your view on the topic.

  3. Shakira July 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    I think how much you learn depends on your experience of it…. there are times when this better experience in informal, and times when it is formal – whatever medium you use.

  4. Shakira July 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    On the topic of internet forums for learning, on reddit there is a subreddit for different subjects and a more general r/UniversityOfReddit

    r/canonade for analysing literature

    r/history or r/AskHistorians


    Whatever you want to study (or have fun with, or debate about) there’s usually a reddit for it.

    Because people pst in real time, you can learn about current topics

  5. Daniel August 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Very balanced article, discusses costs and benefits to the modern age of university degrees. The conclusion and his own thoughts at the end show very good use of evaluation within the article. The comparison to UK universities highlights the extent of which the modern age of degrees could become the forefront of further education.

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