Free MBA education for anyone

[Image] Thanks to Regenesys, anybody can now have unlimited access to accredited business course material, no matter what their circumstances.
(Image: Janine Erasmus)

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Janine Erasmus

A South African tertiary education institution has become the first business school in the world to offer free education on four levels, ranging from a certificate through a diploma and bachelor’s degree, up to an MBA.

The Sandton, Johannesburg-based Regenesys Business School is offering quality learning materials online through various platforms.

Students have only to download and install the Regenesys app on their Android or Apple smartphone or tablet, or use the mobile site with any device, to gain unlimited access to valuable learning material that includes videos, ebooks, a research database, study guides and relevant academic articles.

Now all aspiring entrepreneurs can get the tertiary business education that they have been denied, whether through lack of finances, no space at universities, distance, or for any of a number of reasons that may have held them back.

“You can plan your own pathway,” said Regenesys director Brett Cousins, adding that the institution has trained over 70 000 students in the 14 years of its existence. “Our students can now complete their courses module by module, at a pace that’s comfortable for them. This is our gift to our country and the world.”

Access to study material is based on the so-called Freemium model – where a product or service is offered free of charge, but consumers have to pay for advanced features – but should students decide to pursue a formal qualification with a piece of paper to hang on their wall, there will be a fee involved per module. This covers the cost of checking assignments, exams, and other admin fees.

Students also have the option of attending classes at the Sandton campus, again with costs involved. However, since all the course material is freely available, this will work out much cheaper than going to university.

University in your pocket

The initiative was launched at the organisation’s Sandton campus on 6 November. It’s supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Sunday Times, Internet Solutions, Pearson publishers, and the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) which is chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

“South Africa’s Freedom Charter speaks of the light that comes with learning,” said launch speaker Taddy Blecher, the chairperson of the HRDC’s entrepreneurship, education, and job creation task team. Blecher is himself an education pioneer, as one of the founders of Cida Campus in Johannesburg, an institution that offers a bachelor’s degree in business administration at virtually no cost.

“The struggle was also about free access to education,” said Blecher, “because that would put us on the path to true democracy. Today we celebrate Regenesys, and we thank them for doing this incredible thing.”

Cousins said that Regenesys hopes to have one-million students registered within three years. The institution gives credit for previous studies or work experience through the Recognition of Prior Learning model.

“The world is moving towards a knowledge economy,” said Cousins, “and we’re hoping that by infiltrating into Africa and making our materials available, we’ll boost the continent in this arena.”

He said that all material is available in PDF or HTML format, to make it accessible to South Africa’s 10-million internet users and the millions outside the country’s borders.

“It’s a university in your pocket,” said Blecher.

Accredited qualifications

The four qualifications available are an MBA; a bachelor of business administration; a postgraduate diploma in management; and a higher certificate in business management. The course material is accessible to anyone.

Fully 70% of South Africa’s employees are in small and medium companies (SMEs), as opposed to large corporates, said Blecher. “They are the backbone of our country’s economy.”

Cousins said that Regenesys aims to boost entrepreneurship and create a platform for the creation of more SMEs.

“There is no restriction on these materials, so any registered students can access them, at any level,” he said. “SMEs can boost their business knowledge; organisations can put their staff into training, risk-free, and perhaps allow the top students to continue to the actual qualification, on a bursary basis.”

Registered users will also be able to interact with like-minded students, he added.

Regenesys is accredited with the Council on Higher Education, the Department of Education, the South African Qualifications Authority and various sector education and training authorities. All courses are designed and compiled by and facilitated by subject matter experts.