In the exploration of how to build a university that is tailored to the world, University of the People (UoPeople) has continuously explored global solutions. One of these solutions is to find and provide programs that could be useful to students no matter where they were located in the world, as well as remain compatible with two goals of global relevance: improve student’s standards of living and expose students to diversity.
The first goal of a university providing programs of global relevance is to improve the standard of living of students upon graduation by offering educational programs that allow students the ability to find local opportunities – ones which take into account the conditions of a graduate’s local economy. The best way to accomplish this goal is to look at programs that provide local and online job opportunities for graduates. There are two programs which meet this need and are internationally in demand: Business Administration and Computer Science. A program in Business Administration equips students with improved skills in entrepreneurship, marketing, economic management and business development which ultimately aids in boosting local economies. Computer Science is a rapidly growing field and students of this program gain highly sought after skills in programming and technology. Both of these programs provide students with increased chances of improving their standard of living in their communities by becoming local business owners, independent contractors or employees, or by getting a job assigned over the internet in these fields.
A second goal in providing programs of global relevance is to provide students with exposure to diversity and global dialogue as part of the learning experience. In order to attract students from all over the world and create a diverse student body, the program offerings have to be both in demand globally and involve content that is similar for every culture and country. Both Business Administration and Computer Science programs have similar program content regardless of the country one studies them from – whether a student in a university in the United States, China, Madagascar, Hungary, Chile or Saudi Arabia – the program content of both these programs can be culturally neutral. Unlike programs of study such as History or Literature, in which program material can depend on cultural factors, Business Administration and Computer Science have relatively limited culturally influenced program content. This phenomenon assists in generating global demand of these programs, resulting in a very diverse student body and stimulating global dialogues. Bringing together students considered ‘enemies’ outside the virtual classroom, such as Israelis and Palestinians or Shiite and Sunni Muslims, can have positive benefits throughout whole societies, as students learn that their commonalities outweigh their differences. Thus, the resulting benefit of diversity in a global university is its assistance in promoting world peace, the mission of University of the People.
After much careful consideration and analysis, UoPeople offers two programs: Business Administration and Computer Science. These two programs can be strongly considered global programs both in terms of graduate job prospect opportunities and culturally neutral program content allowing for diversity and global dialogue. Considering that it is estimated that 263 million people globally will desire higher education by 2025 (see source), offering programs which are considered to be both globally appealing and useful is critical.