Johannesburg business school Regenesys has launched a project making business education free to all.
Director Brett Cousins says anyone with access to the Internet will be able to freely download online learning programmes for certificate, diploma, bachelor’s, honours and master’s studies.
Only if they decide to pursue a formal qualification through Regenesys, will they have to pay.
Cousins hopes up to 1m people will take advantage of free access in the next three years. If between 1% and 10% of those convert to paid programmes, “we will be very happy”. That would translate to between 10 000 and 100 000 paying students.
Cousins expects many customers to come from outside SA. Most will come from other African countries but he says there is already interest from Asia, Australia and North America.
Programme partners include the multinational Pearson publishing group, Internet Solutions, the Sunday Times and government’s human resources development council. Cousins says the department of trade and industry has also given its blessing.
He says SA, with its high unemployment rate, particularly among young people, desperately needs business skills. The Regenesys initiative will make them available. School-leavers are a primary target. They can either learn the basic requirements needed to start and run their own business, or they can apply for formal study.
Cousins stresses, however, that anyone planning to pursue a business degree must have the necessary qualifications; for example, a matric exemption for a bachelor’s or a previous degree for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
He says number of companies have said they will encourage employees to study informally through the Regenesys online programmes, then offer bursaries to those they think will benefit from formal qualifications. “I think this is where most of our paying students will come from.”
Cousins says Regenesys has spoken to financial institutions about providing student loans to those deciding to study. The school plans to make payment as painless as possible. ”It will be pay-as-you-go. Because these are online programmes — though there will also be classroom sessions in some cases — students will be able to move through courses at a pace which suits them and their pocket.”