The campus will now consider transfer applications from top students at a tuition-free, online institution who wish to complete their bachelor’s degrees at UC Berkeley.
University of the People, the online university, announced Monday a new partnership with UC Berkeley.
The University of the People offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in computer science and business administration, according to UoPeople president Shai Reshef. The institution aims to make higher education accessible to students who cannot attend traditional universities, through online educational resources and the assistance of academic volunteers.
“(The University of the People) serves a first-generation, low-income demographic,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore. “Its mission of access aligns with ours.”
Reshef added that he believes education is a basic right that should be accessible to all qualified applicants.
According to Reshef, UoPeople, which was founded in 2009, has previously partnered with other institutions, such as Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, for scholarships and internships, among other benefits.
UC Berkeley is not the first partner institution that has accepted UoPeople transfer students. In 2011, New York University signed an agreement to accept transfer students who had completed at least one year of study at UoPeople to its Abu Dhabi campus. For UC Berkeley, however, UoPeople transfers need to have completed an associate degree program, which takes approximately two years.
Both institutions, Reshef said, place a high value on the accessibility of education to those who deserve it.
“Each believes that the undergraduate education experience is greatly enriched by the presence of a diverse student body,” Reshef said. “Now the most accomplished UoPeople students may be considered for admission to Berkeley and to pursue their dreams by attending one of the best universities in the world.”
UoPeople identifies and nominates top-performing students for the transfer process, providing a letter of recommendation to the chosen students. According to Reshef, those who transfer to UC Berkeley will have access to the same financial aid policies as other transfer students.
UoPeople’s top students are chosen and ranked based on their GPAs, according to Sarah Vanunu, UoPeople’s director of communications. All admission decisions, however, rest entirely with the “mission and preference” of the partner university.
“In Berkeley’s case, preference will be given to California residents,” Reshef said. “Time will tell how difficult or easy it is for our students to transfer to Cal.”
Gilmore said that while the campus accepts transfer students from accredited institutions, these acceptances hinge on the quality of the students’ academic work.
“Roughly one in four transfer applicants is offered admission,” Gilmore said. “We look at the caliber of the courses and students’ performance in those courses.”