New Online Institution Revolutionizes Higher Education With Tuition-Free Model
Back Published 2009-04-28Pasadena, Calif.
Millions of people never have the chance to attend college because of economic and geographic constraints. With the help of technology and a visionary educator, this is about to change. This month, entrepreneur Shai Reshef is opening the virtual gates to the world’s first tuition-free, Internet-based academic institution.
As a nonprofit venture, the University of the People (UoPeople) promises to revolutionize higher education by providing universal access to college studies, even in the poorest parts of the world.
“Education, just like democracy, should be a right, not a privilege,” said Shai Reshef, founder and president of University of the People. “With a few keystrokes, UoPeople takes the concept of social networking and applies it to academia, providing a global chalkboard for all students.” Reshef credits open-source technology and increasing access to the Internet in making higher education available to people all around the world.
Long-distance learning is a growing trend in the U.S. According to a survey by the Sloan Consortium, approximately 4 million students are enrolled in online education. As a tuition-free service, UoPeople will take the concept of e-learning to an unprecedentedly broader, worldwide audience.
UoPeople will be able to effectively function on a limited budget without sacrificing quality of education by using collaborative and open-source e-learning. UoPeople will embrace peer-to-peer teaching to make the best use of a student body from around the world. Within online study communities, students will share resources, exchange ideas, discuss weekly topics, submit assignments and take exams. The curriculum will be supported by respected scholars.
A community of educators, comprised of active and retired professors, librarians, master’s-level students and other professionals will participate and oversee the assessment process. They will also develop ongoing procedures for curriculum evaluation and development.
In lieu of tuition, UoPeople plans to charge nominal application and examination fees ($15-$50 and $10-$100 respectively) that may be adjusted on a sliding scale based on the economic situation in the student’s country of origin.
UoPeople will be open to any student with access to a computer and Internet connection, who can submit a certificate of graduation from secondary school and demonstrate proficiency in English (or pass two preliminary English courses at UoPeople).
UoPeople anticipates tens of thousands of students to enroll within the first five years of operation. Although the University will cap enrollment at 300 students in the first semester, the peer-to-peer pedagogical model will encourage rapid expansion of the student body in following years.
Parlaying a successful career in education and worldwide travel, Reshef discovered one issue that unites countries, cities and states around the globe: a need for improved education. His pioneering initiative fulfills a personal desire to give back to society and develop the world through knowledge and academics.
“The University of the People represents a huge leap in the democratization of education by reaching those who until now viewed college as a pipe dream,” added Reshef. “Education is a proven mechanism for upward mobility. Our goal is to positively impact the life chances of as many people as possible.”
In the initial stages, UoPeople will offer two undergraduate degrees: a BA in Business Administration and a BSc in Computer Science. Full-time students will be able to complete the undergraduate degree in approximately four years. All students will be eligible for an associate degree after two years. UoPeople intends to apply for accreditation from recognized authorities as soon as the waiting process for eligibility is met.