The Democratization of Higher Education

Non-profit university offers free degrees to all

Jun 17, 2013

A University of the People student in Haiti. Photo: University of the People

For millions around the globe, the idea of a tertiary education is little more than a pipedream. But hopefully not for long. University of the People is the world's first non-profit, tuition-free, degree-granting online university, dedicated to opening the gates of higher education to all qualified individuals - regardless of financial, social or geographic constraints.
Unlike most online learning programs, University of the People programs combine educators, collaborative learning and information technologies, to stimulate students and offer them a powerful platform to learn with and from one another. Programs are based on the theory that studying within communities is more motivating and challenging than reading alone or listening to online lectures.
The initiative focuses on degrees in business administration and computer science, as they are most in demand in the developing world, and most likely to help students find gainful employment once they graduate.
The non-profit has volunteers from around the world in all sectors, offering up their time to create, organize and review course materials, mentor students and host discussion groups. They've also set up an online Micro-Scholarship Portal, which allows donors to directly connect with applicants around the world and donate any amount – big or small - towards funding their studies.
Bottom line: With just a laptop and an internet connection, a life-changing degree is now only a click away. Sounds good!

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As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.