Wednesday, May 27, 2009

School to Watch: University of the People

The University of the People recently opened under the auspices of the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (GAID). In opening, the UP is now the world's first tuition-free global Internet university.

Students will be charged some fees, however, such as an enrollment fee of $15 to $50 and a test processing fee ranging from $10 to $100, depending on the student's country of origin. A high school diploma and a proficient level of English will also be required.

Assisting this platform will be open-source technologies and materials, and classes will be taught by a mix of professors, librarians, teaching assistants, and other professionals. Those teaching classes will be both paid and voluntary.

And the idea seems to be attractive to many. After two weeks of enrollment, over 200 people from 52 countries registered. Classes, focused on computer sciences and business administration, will begin this fall. Enrollment goals to sustain the university are around 15,000, and the UP will need an estimated $6 million annually to remain open.

UP launched under the Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef, who has decades of experience in global education. Reshef has headed companies such as the Kidum Group, an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, and He has donated $1 million of his own money to the UP, saying the UP can make the dream of education possible for hundreds of millions of people who would not have access otherwise.

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