- University of the People, an accredited, nonprofit, tuition-free institution, announced new associate's and bachelor's degree programs in health studies in response to the Zika crisis and other global health crises that came before it.
- The program will prepare students across the globe to be health workers or go onto advanced medical training, in hopes of getting more people to combat a shortage of qualified personnel to handle crises like Zika, Ebola, and SARS.
- The tuition-free program comes with a $100 course assessment fee that puts the total cost of an associate degree at about $2,000 and a bachelor's degree at about $4,000.
The University of the People launched in 2009 to offer mostly free online education to students all over the world who may not otherwise have access to quality postsecondary programs.
It enrolls more than 3,000 students from 180 countries now and expects new programs, including this health studies program and an MBA it announced last month to double enrollment in the coming years.
The university has a small budget and an army of volunteers. While it certainly provides access to students around the world, it still has relatively little name recognition among employers. Just like other new and nontraditional programs, there are questions about the value of its degrees. But the "new normal" student in higher education is nontraditional and many seek the flexibility online programs provide.