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The Silicon Review Asia

‘Partnerships with the globally-recognized universities give us credibility and a reason to be proud of what we offer to our learners worldwide’: Firoz Thairinil, CEO of UniAthena

‘Partnerships with the globally-recognized universities give us credibility and a reason to be proud of what we offer to our learners worldwide’: Firoz Thairinil, CEO of UniAthena

UniAthena (Athena Global Education) is a new-age educational venture, working relentlessly to upskill and empower working professionals. In partnership with European universities and professional qualifications bodies, UniAthena is offering online accredited doctorate, master, diploma, and certificate programs. It serves learners from around the world.

UniAthena was incorporated in 2019.

The Silicon Review reached out to UniAthena’s Oxford headquarters and spoke with Mr. Firoz Thairinil, who serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Interview Highlights

Q. What methodology does UniAthena implement to empower working professionals?

UniAthena identified the gaps in the higher education infrastructure, especially when it comes to working professionals. The two major challenges which we identified are — the affordability of the program and flexibility of the course delivery. Our 100% online, self-paced programs ensure that learners can access the course anywhere, anytime. The programs offered feature flexible duration; our master’s level programs can be completed in a minimum of nine months to a maximum of 24 months. This allows learners to set their own pace based on their time availability. So instead of learners adjusting their schedules around the program, they can make the program work out around their schedule.

The course delivery is modular and we have implemented Byte-Sized Delivery, which ensures momentum, effective learning and motivation throughout the course. The entire course is divided into small easily consumable chunks, which help students easily track their progress across the program.

That said, we believe the affordability and flexibility of course delivery combined with industry-relevant course resources and evaluation methodology will be a solution that working professionals aspiring for higher education have been looking for!

Q. How does partnering with European universities and other entities expand UniAthena’s reach and make it a global upskilling destination?

Today, Athena’s partner universities and professional bodies have a presence in almost all major ‘Edu-hubs’ of the world. Our initial partnership grew with GMU Italy and UCAM Spain, and since then, we have gone on an expansion spree. Our American partners include Acacia University, Carolina University and Bellevue University. In the UK, we joined hands with three distinguished bodies: Abertay University, Chartered Management Institute, and Cambridge International Qualifications. Proudly, we have onboarded Girne American University and Scottish Qualifications Authority as our academic partners, and plan to incorporate more.

Partnerships with the globally-recognized universities give us credibility and a reason to be proud of what we offer to our learners. Our European partners are especially attractive to students as their curriculum is academically sound and has withstood the scrutiny of the accreditation process. The flexibility owing to the provisions laid out by the European Higher Education system helped us design programs which addressed most of the concerns of working professionals aspiring for higher education—flexible entry requirements, flexible course duration, early exit awards, etc. The APEL policy allows students to claim credits against prior work experience. Besides helping with ensuring flexible course delivery, the European Education system has a legacy of high-quality and practical assessment techniques.

Students today are savvy about their choices, and they tend to pick programs prepared by experts. Our top-ranked partner universities and the diverse learners base keeps us at the forefront of affordable online education and we believe that it is a fit case for us to be a global upskilling destination.

Q. What are the various courses UniAthena offers to domestic and international students?

UniAthena’s Online Delivery allows us to cater to a global audience; students can enrol on the programs offered on the platform from any location on the planet and start learning, so there is no boundary between domestic and international amongst our students. Our current offerings include degrees and micro-credit programs. We are offering MBAs and master’s programs in collaboration with our reputed and accredited partner universities. Besides a master’s degree, we also offer a doctorate in Business Administration program, for people looking to develop superior critical analytical and business problem-solving skills. Under micro-credits, UniAthena offers postgraduate certification and diploma programs, which will help the learners develop skills in specialised areas.

Besides academic programs, UniAthena also offers free-learning upskilling courses; these are short courses with duration varying from four hours to 40 hours and course access is free of cost.

At UniAthena, we have been working on offering programs which are relevant not just to the current demands of the industry, but also prepare the learners for the future. We have been adding courses across the domains from data science, and blockchain to public administration and health to cater for the upskilling need of learners across the industries.

Q. How does your affordable pricing and ‘Pay as you Go’ payment scheme help students?

One of the biggest challenges to higher education besides the availability of time is arranging funds. These financial constraints further accentuate underdeveloped and developing economies. We attempted to resolve this challenge to some extent by breaking the fee into very small instalments, linked to one’s course modules. Students enrol in the program by making payment for the first-course module and only when they are ready to start with the subsequent course, they can make the payment and progress in the course.

Besides breaking the entire course fee into small instalments, we have kept the payment bottom-heavy. That way, around 30-40% of the total fee is charged only when the entire course is completed. This ‘Pay as you go’ payment scheme on top of extremely competitive pricing will help ease the financial challenge that aspiring students face while pursuing higher education.

Q. Will UniAthena be expanding, bringing on any new courses that we should be aware of?

UniAthena has just started. There is a lot to be done and offered to our learners. We have successfully been able to add four new portfolios to our offerings in terms of domains—IT, public administration, health and law, and we are working on improving the offerings in the current portfolio and adding more industry-focused programs.

We have recently launched a Global MBA from esteemed Abertay, United Kingdom. This program is designed for working executives and features blended course delivery. With a special focus on research skills, with this program, we aim to develop critical analytical skills of our learners and upskill them in essential aspects of International Business Management. This program marks UniAthena’s partnership with Abertay University, which has been offering quality education for over 130 years now.

Mr. Firoz Thairinil | Founder & CEO

Mr. Firoz Thairinil is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Westford Education Group. As the Group head, Mr. Thairinil ensures that a strong commitment to high standards and a performance culture is embedded across the entire group. He comes from a BFSI background with strong management credentials. Mr. Thairinil successfully completed PG Dip. in AI for Business Applications from the University of Oxford, has completed Leadership and Management Development Program from the University of California, Los Angeles Extension, and also has an MBA from the University of Wales, UK.

Our top-ranked partner universities and the diverse learners base keeps us at the forefront of affordable online education and we believe that it is a fit case for us to be a global upskilling destination.”

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