New Saylor Partnership Yields $5,000 Accredited Bachelor’s Degree Pathway

Saylor Academy has partnered with Qualifi, a UK Awarding Organization, and City Vision University, an accredited online university based in Kansas City, Missouri, to increase global access to curated and credentialed higher education by providing a four-year degree pathway to students for only $5,000 (Associates Degree for $2,000).

This unique partnership creates a path for students to access the free independent-study content provided by Saylor Academy, have it endorsed by a regulated United Kingdom Awarding Organization, take a third year from that Awarding Organization, and then transfer all their credits to City Vision University for a final year degree completion program.

Qualifi, a UK Awarding Organization, has agreed to endorse the first two years provided by Saylor Academy and issue Qualifi Certificates for each successful year. Students may then complete their third year through Qualifi’s Level 5 in Business, achieving three years of an undergraduate degree which can transfer to City Vision University for a degree completion program in the final year through instructor-led online courses.

City Vision is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which is recognized by the US Department of Education and CHEA. Qualifying students in the US may receive federal financial aid including Pell Grants and federal student loans and VA benefits for any courses taken with City Vision.

“City Vision and its partners are taking bold steps toward making quality education opportunities a reality for students. This partnership exemplifies the efforts being undertaken by colleges and universities worldwide to implement innovations that advance opportunities for degree attainment.”

— Dr. Leah Matthews, Executive Director, Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

The following is a summary of the degree path costs:

Associate’s Degree Cost
$600 Saylor Proctoring Fees (Paid to 3rd party for exam monitoring/identity verification)
$100 Qualifi Credit Endorsement and Transcript Fee
$1,300 City Vision Tuition: 5 Associate’s Degree Courses
$2,000 Total Two Year Tuition & Fees of Associate’s Degree

Bachelor’s Degree Cost
$2,000 Cost of Associate’s Degree
$200 Saylor Proctoring Fees
$800 Qualifi tuition & accreditation + Athena support
$2,000 City Vision Tuition for 5 Courses
$5,000 Total Four Year Tuition and Fees of Bachelor’s Degree

While many students may choose to go with independent study online, the degree path is also open to any educational center globally wishing to offer qualifications. Each center can provide local computer lab access and tutoring support to prepare for the competency-based exams provided by Saylor and Qualifi. The ultimate goal is to have hundreds of centers this using Saylor material and Qualifi qualifications to transfer credit to complete their degree with City Vision online.

Jeff Davidson, Saylor Academy’s Director of Strategic Relationships says, “We are thrilled to get this endorsement from Qualifi for our courses and commend City Vision’s innovative, disruptive approach in working toward radically affordable online education. The Qualifi review underscores the rigor of our courses and reinforces the credit recommendation reviews we’ve already had for many of these courses from the American Council on Education and National College Credit Recommendation Service. This first step in establishing the pathway is exciting and we look forward to helping roll this out to international learning centers in the coming months and years to reach even more students.”

UNESCO has stated that by 2025, 100 million students will be deprived of higher education simply because there will not be enough seats to accommodate them, to meet that demand. Programs like this can help mitigate that concern.

Students wishing to enroll in this program can learn more information here.

Top Comments

  1. sean says:

    Meant to comment on pricing as well. I believe this is to make the price schedule a bit more future-proof -- we are considering a higher proctoring fee that would help us in terms of revenue, while still being at a lower price point than verified certificates from other providers as well as tuition/fees. Right now the proctoring fee does not provide any revenue, even recuperation of costs, to Saylor. A $40 fee, then, would recover $15 for the foundation. A decent number of students are willing to take a proctored exam more than once, suggesting that the low cost is more than attractive.

    We will be careful about avoiding additional financial burdens -- keeping that path open for students is near and dear to the staff.

  2. This sounds like a fascinating program. One thing that does not seem clear from the information available on the page is whether a student would be expected to pay all up front, or does the CityVision tuition part only need to be paid once the student reaches that point in their studies? The site says one must register with qualifi and CityVision before taking exams. The price difference would make the saylor/qualifi parts significantly more affordable, and being able to pay for just them in the beginning would enable students with financial difficulties to begin their educational journey quickly, while having more time to save up for the higher cost of the more costly instructor led courses.

  3. Oh no! You're just tempting me even more to start a second Bachelors degree 'just for fun'.

    Almost but not quite. Qualifi has a more 'powerful' position here in the UK. As a recognised awarding body its qualifications are universally recognised (at least within the EU) which is not, as I understand it, the case with ACE in the US. What Qualifi is doing here is accepting Saylor courses as 'vocationally relevant' which means it can roll them into its existing Level 4 and 5 qualifications.

    For reference, in UK terms, Level 4 is broadly equivalent to first year undergraduate study while level 5 is equivalent to second year (remembering that English degrees are usually three years). There is not really a direct equivalent to the US 2 year (Associate) degree. Although there is a Foundation Degree which is similar, it is not widely known, isn't quite at the same level and is only offered in a limited range of subjects.

    The 'Levels' mentioned above relate to the UK Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) which provides a common basis of comparison for qualifications stretching from secondary school through to doctoral level of both academic and vocational or work-based strands.

  4. sean says:

    The default rule is closed book, with exceptions for four exams (BUS204, CHEM101, MA001, MA005) at the moment -- primarily calculators and formulas sheets; here is a note about it:

  5. Paul,

    Thanks for the encouragement. Our goal is to bring disruptive innovation into higher education. Before working in education and the nonprofit sector for the past 18 years, I previously cofounded the Internet Telephony Consortium with David Clark, one of the fathers of the Internet. There our goal was to disrupt the telephone industry, and that has since happened. For example, last year Skype had more international traffic than all the telephone companies combined.

    My hope is something similar will happen in higher education. I think that this is just one step in that process. Anything you can do to help spread the word about this opportunity would be greatly appreciated!

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