McGill, News

McGill partnership with University of the People establishes transfer program

On March 18, McGill announced that beginning in Fall 2021, it will partner with University of the People (UoPeople), an online, tuition-free university. The collaboration will allow academically outstanding students enrolled at UoPeople to transfer to McGill to complete their degrees. 

Founded in January 2009 by its current president Shai Reshef, UoPeople strives to make higher education more accessible. In 2014, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) officially recognized UoPeople as a legitimate university institution providing education online. 

Currently, UoPeople offers bachelor’s, master’s, and associate’s degree programs in business administration, computer science, health science, and education. Any student completing an associate’s degree at UoPeople with high academic standing can apply to transfer into a McGill program of their choice. 

According to Reshef, of the approximately 57,000 enrolled students, roughly 6,000 are refugees including undocumented immigrants in the United States, and survivors of events such as the Rwandan genocide and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Reshef believes UoPeople’s students will benefit from the partnership with a university like McGill.

“This partnership presents an incredible opportunity, especially for these students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, to complete their degree at McGill and realize their full potential,” Reshef wrote.

The teaching and administrative staff at UoPeople consists of volunteers from universities across the world. The President’s Council, which acts as an advisory board to UoPeople, consists of current and former university principals and chancellors, including McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier

In a 2014 TED Talk, Reshef advocated for increasing the accessibility of higher education through the elimination of almost all tuition fees. There are now 57,771 students enrolled at UoPeople, and the school has formed partnerships with institutions such as NYU, University of California Berkeley, the University of Edinburgh, and Harvard Business School Online. 

The only payments students make to the institution include a $60 USD application fee, a $120 USD course assessment fee—if they are completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree—and a $240 USD fee if they are completing a master’s degree. UoPeople also grants scholarships to students who cannot pay these fees. 

McGill University confirmed in an email to the Tribune that it would receive no financial compensation from UoPeople for accepting its students, and that UoPeople transfer students would pay McGill tuition fees. 

The transfer process for students from UoPeople to McGill has several steps, including numerous immigration documents and fees to cover travel and living accommodations. In addition to scholarships provided by UoPeople, McGill Media Relations Officer Frédérique Mazerolle stated that UoPeople transfer students would be able to apply for McGill financial aid. 

“Qualified applicants from University of the People will be able to apply to the full range of programs at McGill,” Mazerolle said. “McGill will also consider all UoPeople applicants for bursary support to ensure that financial barriers do not preclude accepted applicants from pursuing their education.” 

The Office of International Student Services (ISS) at McGill has prepared a variety of programs to make the transition to life in Montreal as easy as possible for UoPeople students. Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President (VP) Ayo Ogunremi stated that SSMU welcomes students from all backgrounds to the McGill community, noting that inclusion is a key tenet of the Society’s Policy on Accessible Education and Academics.  

“[We] explicitly recognize that Western academia is systematically inaccessible, especially to students from marginalized socioeconomic or sociocultural backgrounds,” Ogunremi wrote in an email to the Tribune. “[SSMU] sees it as a priority to affirm the belonging of these students at our university, where they may often feel unwelcome.”

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