UF Says Number of Students Interested in Its Online Degrees Is Increasing

The University of Florida’s online degree program from 2013 has been considered a success by the institution since the interest for this type of degree has continuously increased, a press release by UF reads.

According to the press release, what makes the university different from other online programs is the quality and reliability of education that is identical to the in-person classes, Erudera.com reports.

Graduate and undergraduate online programs of UF’s are recognized nationally for their credentials, diverse online technologies, strong support out of the classroom with career and academic advising, among other resources.

The UF’s provost for teaching and technology, W. Andrew McCollough, noted that initially, the program wasn’t fully supported despite being clear that this is the future of education.

“People like myself could not imagine an online program could have the same kind of excellence in terms of learning as face-to-face education, but over time, as technology has improved, there has been an understanding and greater acceptance,” Provost McCollough said.

Setting Up UF’s Online Program

On the other hand, Assistant provost and director of UF Online, Evangeline Tsibris Cummings, shared the two options UF had when initially setting up the online platform. According to Cummings, the university could either create separate staff and programs or find an alternative to provide the same education only remotely, which was the university’s decision.

She also notes that many UF Online attendees say they never even thought of going elsewhere.

A similar case occurred with Mary Katharine Farnell, who has attended the UF master’s program, which allowed her to finish bachelor’s and master’s degrees parallelly for five years. She graduated from the program in 2012, opening her own accounting company and returning to the university’s online program for more advanced academic work to graduate again in December with her MBA.

Despite the success, provost McCollough said that there were many challenges along the way to make this platform possible. Professors had to adapt engaging courses while also addressing students’ offline availability.

Another student sharing her online learning experience is Tonika Jones, who was concerned with the engagement with her teachers and peers. Jones attended the online program for over a year and, when she graduated, had problems landing her first job. Once she was hired for a coaching position at a low-income students’ college, she got interested in educational technology and instructional design.

Jones was attending the online classes when UF was just starting the platform, and the lack of in-person study experience led to Jones being skeptical about enrolling at the same university online program. But, a lot had changed since then, Jones notes.

“Once I got into the program, I was able to see the different advancements that have taken place even over just a few years. It just opened my eyes to the different possibilities of online education, and how it’s really gained a lot of depth,” Jones asserted.

Provost McCollough said that the UF Online program is ideal for students who want to keep working while they are finishing their studies, and the whole convenience relies on the university’s flexibility.

“I think online programs in general are a cry for flexibility from students who want to attend a university but don’t want to attend in person full time or live in the dorms. It’s thrilling to see these students, who are looking for quality online education programs, find that here at UF,” Cummings said. 

UF’s Latest Achievements

UF has been named among the best five online bachelor programs for the third year in a row, climbing the scale from number four to third.

UF continues attempts to advance its status as a higher education institution have intensified, especially with the new record of research and innovation funds which hit $942.2 million in 2020, the National Science Foundation has reported.

The University of Florida has marked another record of awarding five students the Fulbright scholarship, becoming the first university in the nation to do so.

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