U. Arizona boosts education accessibility with 'pay-what-you-can' courses

People with different skills connecting together online and working on the same project, remote working and freelancing concept

To make education more accessible, the University of Arizona announced last week that it will make some of its programming more affordable through corporate partners, “pay-what-you-can” programming and open online courses.

“We listened to our community and realized that some needed help as they were either suffering financially, being furloughed or laid off, while others wanted to help support those who could not afford learning,” Joe Carella, assistant dean for Eller Executive Education at the University of Arizona, said in a press release. “Learning budgets are often the first thing to be cut during crises, and yet people need to continue to show that they are growing and spending time wisely.”

The university is offering its Leadership Readiness for Turbulent Times program, designed to help leaders better manage turbulent situations like those created by the COVID-19 pandemic, on a “pay-what-you-can” basis. So far the program has attracted more than 1,000 participants and 30% of them have voluntarily paid more for the program, Carella said.

The program includes instruction on topics such as decision-making during times of complexity and chaos, how to communicate in a crisis and how to manage and motivate teams in a totally virtual workplace.

The University of Arizona has also expanded learning opportunities through massive open online courses, which are not for-credit courses, but give people the to opportunity to learn something new while in quarantine.

“People taking these courses are doing it with the purest of intentions,” Christopher Impey, a University of Arizona professor of astronomy, said in a press release. “They’re not necessarily doing it to get a better job or to get a degree. They’re just doing it because they’re interested in the subject.”

Through the Arizona Online Corporate Initiative, the university has partnered with companies and other organizations to offer their employees access to University of Arizona curriculum.

Employees of partner organizations, like American Express and Geico, can get benefits like waived application fees, tuition reductions, access to an enrollment team and marketing and promotional support for company management.