Due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, millions of people are suffering and the global economy has taken the biggest toll since the era of the Great Depression. Amongst all the uncertainty, the education industry has found a wayto cope by going online. At UNITAR, the first Virtual University in Southeast Asia, we pride ourselves on being the frontrunners of this movement as the 1stInstitution in Asia to receive a 5-Star rating in Online Learning. Being in the virtual sphere for over 20 years, it is business as usual for UNITARarians in terms of our deliveries and operations. It is important to note that being virtual goes beyond just ‘online learning’. In addition to delivering online programmes, a virtual university is one that has an ecosystem of various functions operating seamlessly on digital platforms. For the purpose of this article, we will focus solely on the topic of online learning.
While online learning is a fantastic mode of study for many, there are common misconceptions about furthering your academic qualifications via an online mode. The first is that online programmes are “just an easy way to boost your resume”. This way of thinking is flawed. Many who choose to pursue online programmes are doing so due to the convenience and flexibility, not because it iseasier to attain. The academic rigor is just as high as the conventional programmes. Many fail to realize that several online degrees are accredited – meaning governing bodies have ensured the programme is at a high level – just like its conventional counterparts. The terms Online and Conventional refer to the mode of study and do not reflect the quality of the programme.
The next idea is that online courses are not as “legitimate” as the Conventional (aka traditional) classroom degree. This idea is fueled by the history of companies that made money from issuing fake degrees for low costs. As recent as 2017, the famous website Business Insider reported that “Every year, more than 350 websites pose as legitimate online universities selling 200,000 degrees around the US and other countries.” With congruence on the first idea, the best way to catch a fake degree is doing an intensive check on the accreditation of the programme and institution.
Online Programmes are legitimate and are recognized by employers worldwide. However, it is important to ensure that the online programme is accredited. At UNITAR, all our online programmes are accredited by MQA (Malaysian Qualifications Agency). While many industries suffer during these tough times, the education industry’s transition to the virtual platforms will allow millions to continue their learning journey.