ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE MISSION, VISION & CORE VALUES MILESTONES PARTNERS AND ALLIES BACKGROUND DATA KEY ADMINISTRATION DEANS ADVISORS HAITI PROJECT MEDIA
MISSION, VISION & CORE VALUESUniversity of the People (UoPeople) is a non-profit organization devoted to providing universal access to quality, onlinepost-secondary education to qualified students. The vision of University of the People is grounded in the belief thatuniversal access to education is a key ingredient in the promotion of world peace and global economic development.The mission and vision are guided by the Universitys four core values: Opportunity University of the People is based on the belief that education at a minimal cost is a basic right for all suitable applicants, not just for a privileged few. The university opens the gates of higher education to qualified students anywhere in the world by offering its programs through distance learning and by making this opportunity affordable. Community University of the People creates an inclusive community by making its academic programs, educational services, and employment opportunities available to individuals from all over the world, and by providing learning opportunities that engage students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. Integrity University of the People grounds its institutional culture in candor, transparency and best professional practices, and expects all students, faculty, staff, and administrators to uphold the highest standards of personal integrity, honesty and responsibility. Additionally, the University expects its students to take responsibility for their education and to pursue their studies diligently and with seriousness of purpose. Quality University of the People provides a high-quality online academic experience, suitable in its scope and depth to the challenges of the 21st century. The University assesses and evaluates all aspects of its academic model on an ongoing basis.
MILESTONESJanuary 2009: University of the People LaunchedApril 2009: Enrollment OpenedMay 2009: United Nations Welcomed Shai Reshef and University of the PeopleMay 2009: Fast Company Named Shai Reshef to Its List of the 100 Most Creative People in BusinessSeptember 2009: Classes CommencedSeptember 2009: Yale Law School Information Society Project Partnered with University of the PeopleDecember 2009: Shai Reshef Was Inducted to the International Ashoka FellowshipAugust 2010: University of the People Rings the NASDAQ Closing BellAugust 2010: Clinton Global Initiative Grants Membership to Shai Reshef on behalf of UoPeopleSeptember 2010: Shai Reshef Selected as the Ultimate HuffPost 2010 Game Changer in EducationNovember 2010: The UoPeople Haiti Project CommencedMarch 2011: UoPeople Extended its Global Reach by Accepting Students from More than 115 CountriesJune 2011: UoPeople has Accepted More Than 1,000 StudentsJune 2011: New York University Announced Collaboration with UoPeople to Accept Transfer Students to NYUJune 2011: HP and UoPeople Partner to Open Up Internships for UoPeople Students
PARTNERS AND ALLIES Yale Law School Information Society ProjectUniversity of the People and Yale Law School ISP announced a digital education research partnership in 2009. Overseen by UoPeopleFounder and President Shai Reshef, with the support of Professor Jack Balkin, Director of the Information Society Project, thepartnership‘s goals are multifold and include components such as: Digital Education Research Project and Digital Student Internships. New York UniversityUoPeople established collaboration with New York University (NYU) to, among others, identify UoPeople students who are eligible fortransfer to NYU Abu Dhabi. High performing students who have studied for at least one year at UoPeople and meet the standards ofadmission will be eligible to apply for transfer. Successful applicants who qualified would also be eligible for financial aid. Hewlett Packard (HP)HP and UoPeople partnered to provide research internship opportunities for UoPeople students. The HP-UoPeople collaboration wasformed as part of the HP Catalyst Initiative, a global network of consortia of leading educational institutions and NGO‘s. As part of thepartnership, select UoPeople students can apply for online research internships within areas such as education, technology and health. Clinton Global InitiativeIn August 2010, UoPeople was invited to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Over a three year period, UoPeoplecommitted at a CGI event to work towards accepting 250 qualified Haitian students to study online in either Business Administration orComputer Science. This commitment is designed to empower the youth in Haiti, many of whom currently reside in refugee camps. Partners for a New BeginningChaired by Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, PNB is a collection of public-private partnerships committed to broadeningengagement between the US and Muslim communities abroad. In collaboration with PNB, UoPeople will work with partners towardsaccepting 100 students per year from two of PNB‘s targeted countries – Turkey, Indonesia, Gaza/West Bank, Egypt and Pakistan. OpenCourseWare ConsortiumAs a member of OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC), UoPeople strengthens its commitment to advancing the current educationsystem via the Internet. OCWC is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials. The OCWC is a collaborationof 200 higher education institutions and organizations worldwide, creating a depth of open educational content using a shared model. Haitian Connection NetworkWorking with The Haitian Connection Network (HCN), UoPeople commits to provide access to higher education in Haiti making tuition-free higher education accessible to qualified, low-income Haitian students who would not otherwise have the means to pursue post-secondary education. HCN provides a unique role by offering on the ground assistance and recruitment in Haiti. World Computer ExchangeWorking to improve educational opportunities in developing countries, UoPeople and the World Computer Exchange (WCE) partnered,strengthening their shared missions of democratized access to education. Tapping WCE‘s global network with their more than 2,650computer labs, the collaboration offers UoPeople students increased access to computers with Internet connections for their studies.
BACKGROUNDUniversity of the People (UoPeople; www.UoPeople.org) is the world‘s first tuition-free, online academic institutiondedicated to the global advancement of higher education. UoPeople, a nonprofit venture, is the brainchild of entrepreneurShai Reshef, who has worked in international education for over 20 years. Providing universal access to collegiate-levelstudies, despite geographic and financial constraints, UoPeople promotes world peace via the democratization of highereducation.High-quality, low-cost and universal, UoPeople‘s pedagogical model draws on the principles of e-learning and socialnetworking, coupled with open-source technology and courseware. Within online study communities, students fromaround the world cover readings, share resources, exchange ideas and discuss assigned questions. Full-time andvolunteer educators, selected from a pool of active and retired professors, master level students and other professionals,participate in and oversee the assessment process, as well as develop the curriculum.UoPeople offers four undergraduate programs: Associate of Science (A.S.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in BusinessAdministration and A.S. and B.S. in Computer Science in a tuition-free model. There is no charge for the cost ofinstruction, books, teachers or annual enrollment. In order for the University to be sustainable, there are nominal fees forapplication and examination processing. Currently, the only fee incurred is a minimal Application Processing fee rangingbetween $10-$50 depending on the applicant‘s place of residence and the University Grant provided. In the future, ExamProcessing Fees ($10-$100 respectively) will be levied to cover operating expenses. The inaugural class began studieson September 10, 2009.UoPeople has been met with favorable press reviews from around the world, with coverage in outlets ranging from TheNew York Times, CNN and Associated Press to prominent education trades and international publications.UoPeople Founder and President Shai Reshef donated US$1 million of his own money to fund the initiative. DATAStudent Population Student Body: Accepted 1000+ students Locations: Over 115 countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, China, Spain, USA, Colombia, South Korea, Egypt, Jordan, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia and Ghana Ages: 18-72 years oldStudent Satisfaction“Of students polled consecutively each term, over 90% of students would recommend UoPeople to a peer as a goodplace to attend.‖
KEY ADMINISTRATIONMr. Shai Reshef – Founder & PresidentShai Reshef is the Founder & President of the University of the People (UoPeople).An educational entrepreneur, Reshef has twenty years of experience in the international education market. From 1989 to2005, he served as Chairman of the Kidum Group, a for-profit educational services company which was sold to Kaplan,Inc. in 2005. Between 2001 and 2004, while continuing as the chairman of Kidum, Reshef lived in the Netherlands wherehe chaired KIT eLearning, a subsidiary of Kidum, the eLearning partner of the University of Liverpool and the first onlineuniversity outside of the United States.Reshef has been widely recognized for his work with University of the People. In 2009, Reshef was named one of FastCompany‘s ―100 Most Creative People in Business,‖ selected by OneWorld as one of its ―People of 2009‖ and awarded afellowship by Ashoka. He also joined the United Nations‘ Global Alliance for Information and CommunicationTechnologies and Development (GAID) as a High-level Adviser. In August 2010, on behalf of UoPeople, Reshef wasgranted membership to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The following month, recognized for ―taking the world toschool,‖ Reshef was selected as the Ultimate Game Changer in Education, an honor awarded by The Huffington Post tovisionaries and leaders who are transforming their fields through innovation. Over 3 million votes were cast in thecompetition which honored Game Changers in 12 different categories.An expert on innovations in education and the intersection of education and technology, Reshef has spokeninternationally at conferences including the UN-GAID Global Forum in Monterrey, Mexico; DLD: Digital, Life, Design inMunich, Germany; Hacking Education in New York; the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in Jordan andMorocco; the Fourth University Industry Council Symposium in Kolkata, India and the Clinton Global Initiative in NewYork. He has also lectured several times at Yale University on the future of digital education, presented the keynoteaddress at Google‘s Higher Education Summit and appeared at Harvard University as part of its Berkman LuncheonSeries.Reshef holds an M.A. from the University of Michigan in Chinese Politics.Dr. David H. Cohen – ProvostDr. David Harris Cohen was named University of the People Provost in December 2009 following a distinguished careeras a neurobiologist and university administrator. Dr. Cohen served as the Vice President and Dean of the Faculty for Arts& Sciences at Columbia University, where he was also professor of Biological Sciences and professor of Neuroscience inPsychiatry.Dr. Jack R. Goetz, Esq. – VP for Academic AffairsDr. Jack Goetz is the Vice President for Academic Affairs for University of the People. Goetz was founding Dean andpresident of Concord University School of Law, the first law school to offer a degree program fully online (in California).Beyond his academic achievements, Goetz has been an advocate of access to quality higher education. In addition,Goetz is the co-founder of the Goetz Higher Education Scholarship Fund.Mr. Shawn Moustafa – Associate VP for Academic AffairsMr. Shawn Moustafa is the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs for University of the People. Moustafa currentlyserves as the Director of Curriculum and Academic Development at California Coast University, a pioneer in distancelearning, where he teaches marketing and management courses.Mr. Paul Affuso – Chief Financial OfficerMr. Paul Affuso is the Chief Financial Officer for University of the People. Previously, Affuso served as Associate Dean forAdministrative Services & Facilities at New York University‘s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, overseeing the day today operating needs of the School and all capital projects and plans.Dr. Brian Harlan - Institutional Research and Assessment DirectorDr. Brian Harlan is the Institutional Research and Assessment Director for University of the People. Currently, Dr. Harlanserves as Senior Director of the Institutional Research, Assessment & Planning at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
DEANSDr. Alexander Tuzhilin – Dean of Computer ScienceDr. Alexander Tuzhilin is the Dean of Computer Science at University of the People and serves as Professor ofInformation Systems at the Stern School of Business, New York University. He has previously held visiting positions atThe Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.Dr. Russell S. Winer – Dean of Business AdministrationMr. Russell S. Winer is the William Joyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Marketing at the Stern School ofBusiness, New York University. He previously served on the faculties of Columbia University, Vanderbilt University andthe University of California at Berkeley.Dr. Preetha Ram - Dean of General StudiesDr. Preetha Ram is currently the Associate Dean for Pre-Health and Science Education at Emory University. Dr.Ram received her PhD in biophysical chemistry from Yale, holds an MBA from Emory, graduated with a Msc in Chemistryfrom I.I.T Delhi and has an undergraduate degree from Women‘s Christian College, Chennai, India. ADVISORSGeneral Advisory CommitteeMs. June Arunga is a founding partner and member of the board of directors at Black Star Lines, a technology solutionprovider for cell-phone based payments and money transfers in Africa. She is also the founder and president of OpenQuest Media LLC in New York.Mr. Jack M. Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, the founderand director of Yales Information Society Project and the co-director of Yales Law and Media Program.Mr. M. Humayun Kabir is the former Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh to the United States. A careerdiplomat with the rank of Permanent Secretary to the Government, Ambassador Kabir previously served as Bangladesh‘sHigh Commissioner to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, as well as Ambassador to Nepal.Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan, Ph.D. is currently the President of Talal Abu Ghazaleh Business University, Bahrain, andSenior Adviser to the Arab Open University. Dr. Kahn was previously the Assistant Director-General for Communicationand Information at the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Prior to joining UNESCO, he servedas Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi, and the Founding Director and Professorof its Communications Division.Dr. Mihai Nadin made a name for himself as one of the first proponents of integrating computers into the U.S. educationsystem. Dr. Nadin has served as Endowed Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas since 2004, and he is also thefounder & Director of anté, Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems.Dr. Y.S. Rajan is Principal Adviser, Confederation of Indian Industry, and best known for co-authoring a best-selling bookwith India‘s former President Abdul Kalam: INDIA 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. He is a well-recognized authorityin the field of technology development and business management in IndiaDr. David Wiley is Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, ChiefOpenness Officer of Flat World Knowledge, and Founder of the Open High School of Utah.Ms. Esther Wojcicki has been the Journalism & English teacher at Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, CA for the past 25years. After building the journalism program from a small group of 20 students in 1985 to one of the largest in the nationincluding 350 students, Ms. Wojcicki was selected by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as 2002California Teacher of the Year.
Computer Science Advisory CommitteeDean: Dr. Alexander Tuzhilin currently, serves as Professor of Information Systems at the New York University (NYU)Stern School of Business. He has previously held visiting positions at The Wharton School of the University ofPennsylvania, Columbia University and École Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris.Dr. Vijay Atluri is currently a Professor of Computer Information Systems in the MSIS Department, and research directorfor the Center for Information Management, Integration and Connectivity at Rutgers University.Professor HV Jagadish is the Bernard A Galler Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science atthe University of Michigan and a Senior Scientific Director of the National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informaticsestablished by the National Institutes of Health.Professor Vincent Oria is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the NewJersey Institute of Technology.Dr. Avi Silberschatz is an award-winning educator, author and researcher, Sidney J. Weinberg Professor of ComputerScience and the Chair of the Computer Science Department at Yale University.Business Administration Advisory CommitteeDean: Dr. Russell S. Winer currently serves as William Joyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Marketing at theStern School of Business, New York University.Associate Dean: Ms. Ogechi Adeola holds a law degree from University of Nigeria, an MBA in Financial Managementfrom Manchester Business School, University of Manchester and a Certificate of Merit from Institute of FinancialManagement.Dr. Kriengsak Chareonwongsak is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University‘s Kennedy School, the President of theInstitute of Future Studies for Development in Thailand and former advisor to the Prime Minister of Thailand.Dr. Gabriel Hawawini served Henry Grunfeld Chaired Professor of Investment Banking and former dean of INSEAD(2000-2006), one of the world‘s leading and largest graduate business schools. He is currently Visiting Professor ofFinance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.Dr. Indu Shahani is the Dean of H R College of Commerce and Economics in South Mumbai since 2000. Shahanigraduated from renowned Sydenham College, Mumbai and holds a Ph.D. in Commerce from the University of Mumbai.General Studies Advisory CommitteeDean: Dr. Preetha Ram is currently the Associate Dean for Pre-Health and Science Education at Emory University. Dr.Ram received her PhD in biophysical chemistry from Yale, holds an MBA from Emory, graduated with a Msc in Chemistryfrom I.I.T Delhi and has an undergraduate degree from Women‘s Christian College, Chennai, India.Associate Dean: Michelle Rogers-Estable currently works as an Online Associate Faculty as well as a ProgramDeveloper for Academic Affairs with Touro College France.Dr. Geraldine Downey currently serves as a Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and director of its SocialRelations Laboratory.Dr. Catherine M. Casserly is currently CEO of Creative Commons. While the Director of the OER Initiative at The Williamand Flora Hewlett Foundation, she managed investments totaling more than $100 million to harness the efficiency andeffectiveness of knowledge sharing worldwide.Dr. Peter Awn currently serves in his 14th year as Dean of Columbia Universitys School of General Studies and his 33rdyear as a professor of Islamic Religion and Comparative Religion at Columbia University. Dr. Awn also currently serves as
the director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.Dr. Ruth Yakir currently serves as the director of the Center for International Studies at Kibbutzim College of Education,Technology and the Arts and chairs a ―think tank‖ to propose changes in teacher education curricula in the era ofglobalization.Library Services Advisory CommitteeChairperson: Ms. Ilene Frank currently serves as the Director of Library Services at University of the People. From 1974to 2009, Ms. Frank was a reference librarian at the University of South Florida (USF), where she retired with professoremerita status.Ms. Carol Goodson is the Head of Library Access Services at the University of West Georgia, where she overseesservices for distance education students.Mr. S. Blair Kauffman is a Law Librarian and Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Mr. Kauffman has authored booksincluding Szladitz Bibliography on Foreign and Comparative Law (2000) with Dan Wade and Tracy Thompson, and Law inAmerica (2001) with Bonnie Collier.Mr. Jim Neal is currently the Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University,providing leadership for university academic computing and a system of twenty-two libraries.Mr. Tom Peters is the current CEO of ―TAP Information Services‖, founded in 2003, to assist libraries, publishers andother such organizations in research and assessment services. Mr. Peters has served as the Dean of University Librariesat Western Illinois University and as Humanities Reference Librarian and Coordinator of Bibliographic Instruction, MillerNichols Library, University of Missouri--Kansas City.Ms. Elizabeth F. Watson is Campus Librarian at the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados of The University of the West Indies(UWI). She is a member of the Barbados National Commission for UNESCO, Chair of the UNESCOs Memory of theWorld Committee (MoW) and also serves on the (International) Marketing Committee for MoW.
HAITI PROJECTThe 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haitis higher education sector, a crucial factor in rebuilding efforts andsustainable development. Twenty-eight of Haitis 32 major universities were completely destroyed and the four remaininguniversities were severely damaged.With the support of the Clinton Global Initiative, UoPeople currently serves over 60 local students, helping them accesseducation and develop the skills needed to rebuild their country. Over a three year period, the organization will accept 250qualified Haitian youth to study online, utilizing working towards an Associate‘s Degree in Business Administration orComputer Science.Online programs will provide Haitian students with the opportunity to attain higher education without having to leave Haiti,not only empowering individual project participants, but also raising the standards for, and access to, higher education. Inturn, these individuals will help to restore and repair civil society in Port-au-Prince and aid in the country‘s critical recovery.By encouraging Haitian students to study at home, UoPeople will also help counter the country‘s ―brain drain‖ which hasseen Haiti‘s brightest and most talented minds leave the country for greater educational opportunities abroad.Since many Haitian students do not have access to the Internet, UoPeople works with on-the-ground allies to establishStudent Computer Centers in the region. Managed by a support staff, the Centers, located in Port-au-Prince andMirebalais, are equipped with computers and high speed Internet connection and are open to all students, who may studythere for the duration of their enrollment at UoPeople.―After high school, I could not go to university because it was too expensive. Every day, I would stand in the street talkingwith my friends about what we would do if we had money. We hoped that 2010 would be better, but then the earthquakedestroyed everything, houses, businesses and many lives,‖ said Elysée, age 21, UoPeople student. ―Since that day, Ihave been sleeping in the street, under a tent, and nobody cares about my education anymore. University of the People isbetter than food and a tent. And education is even better than a visa or a green card.‖
MEDIA―An Israeli entrepreneur with decades of experience in international education plans tostart the first global, tuition-free Internet university, a nonprofit venture he has named theUniversity of the People… Mr. Reshef is probably as well positioned as anyone for suchan enterprise.‖ – New York Times―One of the higher education worlds boldest experiments began in September when 180students from nearly 50 countries around the world logged on to their computers for theirfirst day of school at the University of the People.‖ – Businessweek.com―UN announces launch of world‘s first tuition-free, online university…As part of this year‘sfocus on education, the UN Global Alliance for Information and CommunicationTechnology and Development (GAID) presented the newly formed University of thePeople, a non-profit institution offering higher education to the masses.‖–UN NewsCentre―As millions of students across the world go back to school this month, 178 students from49 countries will turn on their computers and step onto the virtual campus of the worldsfirst global, tuition-free online university. Called University of the People, the non-profit,California-based endeavor comes from Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef who says hefounded the school to provide higher education to those who might otherwise never haveaccess to it.‖ – CNN.com―An Israeli entrepreneur who has started what is believed to be the worlds first tuition-free online university said Saturday he hopes the effort will expand education to lessfortunate people around the world.‖ – Associated Press―Hundreds of students on five continents have enrolled [in University of the People],and Reshef hopes his university will serve as a global model for how to educate a newgeneration. ‗There are hundreds of millions of people around the world unable to affordhigher education,‘ he says. ‗We are offering them an alternative.‘‖ – Fast Company―Its Time to Give Back...Serial entrepreneur Shai Reshef launches University of thePeople, a free online university for students who cannot afford tuition.‖ – Inc.com―Global University Eliminates Barriers to Education. Theres a lot of handwringing aboutthe cost of higher education in this country. Well, one entrepreneur has come up with aproposal to bring that cost down to a manageable number: zero. University of the Peopleis free — its 100 percent online.‖ –NPR―It is a grand vision: a global college with no tuition, accessible to anyone with an Internetconnection. When higher education entrepreneur Shai Reshef laid out his ambitious planto build a free university that would use modern technology to spread the promise of acollege degree to all corners of the earth, he got an enthusiastic reaction from somehigh-profile institutions. The United Nations has backed the venture. So has Yale LawSchools Information Society Project.‖ –USA Today―An online opportunity for those who lack alternatives. Welcome to the tuition fee-freeworld of the University of the People (UoPeople) – an online non-profit university whichhas already acquired 380 students from 81 countries within a year of opening.‖ –Financial Times―Shai Reshef, the Israeli entrepreneur behind the idea, said the response has beenoverwhelming since news of his in-the-works university started spreading earlier thisyear. Hundreds of potential students from all over the world have e-mailed, and hundredsof professors want to volunteer -- and admissions wont even open until April.‖ – LosAngeles Times
―The timing couldnt be better. Just as millions of working-age Americans are realizingthey need extra education and skill-sharpening to thrive in a recession… The newnonprofit University of the People…will offer totally free online courses and textbooksleading to business and computer technology bachelors degrees.‖ – U.S. News & WorldReport ―University of the People is a not-for-profit institution that aims to offer higher educationopportunities to people who generally couldn‘t afford it by leveraging social mediatechnologies and ideas.‖ – Mashable―An Israeli entrepreneur is planning the University of the People, a global and largely freedegree-awarding, online university that will rely in part on peer-to-peer teaching andprofessors — some volunteer — to plan assessments.‖ – Inside Higher Ed―It has no campus, no lecture theatres and hardly any paid staff, but the InternationalUniversity of the People, which opened last month, does have one big plus point - notuition fees.‖ –The Guardian―The unique selling point of latest distance learning institution to launch, the University ofthe People, based in California, is that there are no tuition fees at all, although enrolmentand exam costs come to about £100 a year.‖ –The Independent―Educators on the panel were equally vocal about reform…For those who cant afford acollege education, there needs to be a free, viable alternative, said Shai Reshef, founder andpresident of University of the People, an online institution that he envisions will one dayeducate 100,000 people.‖ – The Atlantic―Youve voted on your favorites and chosen Shai Reshef as the Ultimate Game Changer inEducation for 2010. Changed the game by ... taking the world to school. In 2009, Resheffounded the University of the People, a Pasadena-based project that streams lectures andassignments to people around the world, allowing them to take college classes online for lessthan $100.‖ – The Huffington Post―University of the People (UoPeople), a non-profit organization, is currently seeking funds toexpand its presence in Haiti and fulfill its commitment to reach 250 students." -The Nation―New York University…is starting a new partnership with the University of thePeople…[NYU President] Mr. [John] Sexton said he hoped the collaboration wouldencourage more N.Y.U. faculty…to work with the online institution.‖ – New York Times ―Traditional Higher Ed Opens Doors for Tuition-Free Online University… mission is not to turn a profit, but rather to create a truly global opportunity for education… It‘s [UoPeople] an evolution of the existing educational space‖ – Mashable ―At a time when top national universities charge $50,000 a year in tuition and livingexpenses, University of the People represents quite an anomaly. The Pasadena, Calif.,nonprofit university offers college coursework to about 1,000 students worldwide essentiallyfor free.‖ – The Washington Post ―All around the world, people have been waiting for someone like Shai Reshef to comealong... UoPeople strives to serve the vast numbers of students who have no access totraditional higher education. ‖ – The Chronicle of Higher Education
Israeli Entrepreneur Plans a Free Global University That Will Be OnlineOnlyBy TAMAR LEWINJanuary 26, 2009An Israeli entrepreneur with decades of experience in international education plans to start the firstglobal, tuition-free Internet university, a nonprofit venture he has named the University of the People.―The idea is to take social networking and apply it to academia,‖ said the entrepreneur, Shai Reshef,founder of several Internet-based educational businesses.―The open-source courseware is there, from universities that have put their courses online, availableto the public, free,‖ Mr. Reshef said. ―We know that online peer-to-peer teaching works. Putting it alltogether, we can make a free university for students all over the world, anyone who speaks Englishand has an Internet connection.‖ About four million students in the United States took at least one online course in 2007, according to a survey by the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit group devoted to integrating online learning into mainstream higher education. Online learning is growing in many different contexts. Through the Open Courseware Consortium, started in 2001 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, universities around the world have posted materials for thousands of courses — as varied as Lambing and Sheep Management at Utah State and Relativistic Quantum Field Theory at M.I.T. — all free to the public. Many universities now post their lectures on iTunes. For-profit universities like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University have extensive online offerings. And increasingly, both public and private universities offer at least some classes online.Outside the United States, too, online learning is booming. Open University in Britain, for example,enrolls about 160,000 undergraduates in distance-learning courses.The University of the People, like other Internet-based universities, would have online studycommunities, weekly discussion topics, homework assignments and exams. But in lieu of tuition,students would pay only nominal fees for enrollment ($15 to $50) and exams ($10 to $100), withstudents from poorer countries paying the lower fees and those from richer countries paying thehigher ones.Experts in online education say the idea raises many questions.
―We‘ve chatted about doing something like this over the last decade but decided the time wasn‘t yetright,‖ said John Bourne, executive director of the Sloan Consortium. ―It‘s true that the opencourseware movement is pretty robust, so there are a lot of high-quality course materials out there,but there‘s no human backup behind them. I‘d be interested to know how you‘d find and train facultyand ensure quality without tuition money.‖Other educators question the logistics of such a plan.―The more you get people around the world talking to each other, great, and the more they talk aboutwhat they‘re learning, just wonderful,‖ said Philip G. Altbach, director of the Center for InternationalHigher Education at Boston College. ―But I‘m not at all sure, when you start attaching that to creditsand degrees and courses, that it translates so well.―How will they test students? How much will the professors do? How well does the American orBritish curriculum serve the needs of people in Mali? How do they handle students whose English isnot at college level?‖Mr. Reshef said his new university would use active and retired professors — some paid, somevolunteers — along with librarians, master-level students and professionals to develop and evaluatecurriculums and oversee assessments.He plans to start small, limiting enrollment at 300 students when the university goes online in the falland offering only bachelor‘s degrees in business administration and computer science. Mr. Reshefsaid the university would apply for accreditation as soon as possible.Mr. Reshef hopes to build enrollment to 10,000 over five years, the level at which he said theenterprise should be self-sustaining. Startup costs would be about $5 million, Mr. Reshef said, ofwhich he plans to provide $1 million.For all the uncertainties, Mr. Reshef is probably as well positioned as anyone for such an enterprise.Starting in 1989, he served as chairman of the Kidum Group, an Israeli test preparation company,which he sold in 2005 to Kaplan, one of the world‘s largest education companies. While chairman ofKidum, he built an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, enrolling students frommore than 100 countries; that business was sold to Laureate, another large for-profit educationcompany, in 2004.Mr. Reshef is now chairman of Cramster.com, an online study community offering homework help tocollege students.―Cramster has thousands of students helping other students,‖ said Mr. Reshef, who lives inPasadena, Calif., where both Cramster and the new university are based. ―These become strongsocial communities. With these new social networks, where young people now like to spend theirlives, we can bring college degrees to students all over the world, third-world students who would beunable to study otherwise. I haven‘t found even one person who says it‘s a bad idea.‖
Tuition-Free University Gains a FollowingA year since its formation, the online University of the People hasattracted several hundred students, a team of top academic advisers,and growing support worldwideBy ALISON DAMASTJanuary 21, 2010One of the higher education worlds boldest experiments began in September when 180 studentsfrom nearly 50 countries around the world logged on to their computers for their first day of school atthe University of the People. At first glance, the school has many of the trappings of a modernuniversity: a provost, department heads, even an admissions committee. Yet there are glaringdifferences—namely, a the lack of a campus or physical classroom and just a handful of paid staff—that set it apart from its bricks-and-mortar counterparts.Those are shortcomings the students, most of them from developing countries and without the meansto pay for college, are willing to overlook, says Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur and founder ofthe school, the worlds first global tuition-free online university."Education has become so expensive that not that many people can afford it, and in some parts of theworld it just doesnt exist or there isnt a big enough supply," says Reshef, who has more than twodecades experience with Internet-based educational ventures and is chairman of Cramster.com, anonline study community. "This is exactly why the Internet was invented. I thought: What can be donebetter with the Internet than helping people get an online education for free?"Backed by the U.N.It was just about a year ago that Reshef made headlines in the distance learning community with hisannouncement that he intended to start an online college program using open-source software thatwould be free to students all over the world, one of just a handful of tuition-free universities. Thenonprofit venture, which he named University of the People, attracted attention not only because of itstuition-free mission but also because it had the backing of the U.N., a leadership team made up ofacademics from top educational institutions like Columbia University and New York University, and aninnovative approach to distance education, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning.Today, the online university is fully operational, with 300 students, a growing array of courseofferings, and even a recently announced research partnership with Yale University. The school istapping into a growing market: Nonprofit institutions account for 68% of the more the more than 2million students enrolled in online education, according to the latest estimates from Eduventures, ahigher education consulting firm.There are still many trials ahead for the fledgling university, which is struggling to make inroads in thecompetitive online global education market. To stay afloat, the school will need to raise several million
dollars in startup costs this year and introduce new admission and application testing fees, whichcould pose difficulties for students from developing countries. But perhaps its greatest challenge—and the one its success will hinge on—will be gaining accreditation, a step toward the schools goal ofconferring bachelors degrees to students. This would also allow the school to carve out a niche as amajor player in a space that has so far been primarily dominated by schools like the for-profit ApolloGroups (APOL) University of Phoenix and Washington Post Co.s (WPO) Kaplan University, both ofwhich have broad online degree offerings, says Roger C. Schonfeld, the manager of research atITHAKA S+R, a higher education strategy and research organization.Business and Computer Science"What the University of the People is offering to do is make education time- and space-neutral. Theyhave a lot of ingredients there to be successful, and they certainly have quite a few superstars ontheir advisory board," Schonfeld says. Among them: a former dean at INSEAD and the current U.S.Ambassador to Bangladesh. "I think that their success from a business perspective may turn on theirability to become accredited," Schonfeld notes. "With accreditation, they have a good chance of aninnovative model that might see some success."For now, the schools academic offerings are limited. Students can pursue an associates-degree orbachelors-degree track in business or a bachelors track in computer science. Those subject areaswere chosen because they are professions that "are in high demand and areas where students willmost likely be able to find a job," Reshef says. (A notice on the schools Web site reads: "Theseprograms may in the future lead towards undergraduate degrees. However, no degrees will begranted until the university obtains proper authorization from relevant authorities.")Obtaining accreditation is a top priority for the school, says Reshef, noting that the school isincorporated in Pasadena, Calif., making it easier for the school to work with American accreditationagencies. "We intend to apply for accreditation as soon as we can," Reshef says, though he declinedto specify which accreditation body the school planned to work with."A Great Opportunity"The schools unaccredited status does not appear to be a stumbling block for students like DeemaSultan, 27, who lives in Syria and was among the first cohort of students to matriculate at theUniversity of the People this fall. She came across the school through a news story run on a SyrianWeb site last summer and immediately became intrigued. "I thought, "Oh, this is a great idea, but Idoubt it is true,"" says Sultan.Her doubts were assuaged when she found the schools Web site and saw that she met the eligibilityrequirements. Now in her second semester, she is pursuing a business administration track. Whennot in school, she helps run her familys textile business. She hopes her education will help thebusiness grow and help her become a more astute entrepreneur."This is a great opportunity for me because, even though Im working, I could not afford to study inSyria or the U.S.," says Sultan, who takes classes from a computer in her parents home or at Internetcafés, when the familys connection is down. "Im very impressed by it so far and the level ofeducation they are offering. Ive been telling my friends all about it."The University of the People has not launched an official marketing campaign, but word appears tobe spreading quickly. In its first two semesters, the school received 3,000 applications from all overthe world, the school says. Students enrolled in the current class range in age from 18 to 63; the vast
majority have opted for the business program. To gain admission, students have to submit a highschool diploma, have Internet access, be proficient in English, and be able to pass two mandatorycourses in English and computer skills. The school has so far attracted students from 70 countries,including Afghanistan, Thailand, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Zambia, and expects to enroll severalhundred more students when its third semester begins in February, Reshef says.Peer-to-Peer LearningAdmitted students are placed in a class of 15 to 20 of their peers and given access to free onlinematerials and social networking tools. There are five semesters throughout the school year, eachlasting 10 weeks. The school is using Moodle, an open sourceware e-learning software platform, todeliver lectures, reading material, homework assignments, and tests to students, who work togetherin groups.Every class is overseen by an instructor, but the schools educational model is based on peer-to-peerlearning, meaning that students are expected to learn by interacting with their peers, posting andresponding to questions on lessons and reading in their online classrooms. If students cant find theanswer to a question through their classmates, they can reach out for help to an online volunteercommunity of university professors, graduate students, retired academics, and computer specialists.The model appears to be working, the school says. A survey of students conducted in November bythe school indicated that 90% of the class was satisfied with the classroom experience and woulddefinitely or likely recommend the school to peers and family.Some question whether the peer-to-peer learning model will work as courses get progressively harderand more complex. Schonfeld, of ITHAKA, says the model may work well for introductory classes, buthe fears students may struggle later in the program. University of the Peoples model relies heavily ontests, so students may miss out on some of the more important elements of classroom instruction,such as writing essays or having exchanges with their peers mediated by a professor, he says."At the conceptual level, it seems possible to teach some 101-level information acquisition courses inthe absence of live instruction," Schonfeld says. "But it seems to me that a bachelor of businessadministration program calls for some real seminar-style teaching combined with peer interaction,especially when it comes to classes like a business ethics course or one on negotiation ormanagement. There are all sorts of courses that are part of a business curriculum that seemintuitively not to be suited structurally to peer-to-peer learning or other forms of low-faculty-contactteaching."Wanted: Women StudentsReshef, the schools founder, says he is pleased with the progress so far but acknowledges that anumber of challenges remain. One of the most glaring ones is increasing the representation ofwomen students; the student body is made up of about 70% men and 30% women. In the comingyear, Reshef says, he hopes to minimize that gap by reaching out to more women in the Middle Eastand Africa.Meanwhile, the school is still trying to find the money it needs to keep operating. Reshef has donated$1 million of his money, but the school needs to raise an additional $5 million to keep running. Hesays he hopes to get the money through grants, foundations, and private donations. Although theschool is run mostly by volunteers, it needs to cover the salaries of a small group of student support
staff and classroom instructors. Plus, it needs to raise money for an advertising and marketingcampaign."Well be sustainable once we get to 15,000 students, but we dont plan on stopping there," he says."We want to grow as much as we can and as much as the world wants us to grow. There are noupper limits."Reshef says the university will remain will remain tuition-free, but students will be charged admissionfees ($15 to $50) and test-processing fees ($10 to $100) starting in a few months. The money that willhelp cover the schools operating expenses, he says. The fees would be on a sliding scale,depending on a students country of residence. Fees for a student from a developing country wouldadd up to around $400 for four or six years of education, Reshef says.A Question of SustainabilitySome education experts say they worry that the appeal of the school could wane for students oncethe admissions and testing fees kick in later this year. There are several high-profile examples of for-profit online university ventures that failed in the early party of the decade, says Arlene Krebs, directorof the Wireless Education & Technology Center at California State University at Monterey Bay. Forexample, Columbia University invested $25 million in a for-profit online learning portal called Fathomthat closed in 2003. Other for-profit online ventures collapsed around the same time, including onesat New York University, Temple University. and other top schools. It remains to be seen whether anonprofit online university can become sustainable, she says."Ive seen many great distance learning programs come and go. The fact that the University of thePeople is free right now is a very clever marketing arrangement, but I dont know what will happenthereafter," Krebs says. "I would hope that the people who would get involved would be able tosustain their involvement once they get charged these fees."The testing fees dont appear to be too big a concern for Stephen Ezekiel Akinlolu, a 23-year-oldstudent at University of the People from Lagos, Nigeria. Akinlolu, the son of a clergyman, spent fiveyears trying to get into a Nigerian university but had no luck because of the scarcity of seats in thecountrys top schools. The University of the People is his only chance to get a top-rate and affordableuniversity education, he says."It is quite hard because the competition for a space at universities here is quite high, so I was very,very happy when I got admitted to University of the People," he says. "Im glad I dont have to worryabout tuition, but even when I have to start paying, it wont be much compared to traditionaluniversities here, so I think it will be very manageable."Partnership with YaleStudents are not the only ones intrigued by the schools model. The university has attracted theinterest of a virtual army of academics and subject enthusiasts around the world. In September theschool announced a research partnership with Yale Law Schools Information Society Project. Thetwo schools plan to work together on research projects based around digital education, as well asadvocacy and social networking.In addition, dozens of professors have volunteered to help design courses for the school and providestudents with academic support, many of whom are well-known names is U.S. academic circles. Forexample, the provost of the school is David Harris Cohen, the former vice-president and dean of
Columbia Universitys Faculty for Arts and Sciences. Heading up the computer science department isAlexander Tuzhilin, currently a professor of information systems at New York Universitys SternSchool of Business (Stern Full-Time MBA Profile), while the business administration department isbeing led by Russell Winer, chair of Sterns marketing department.Winer, who also joined the schools advisory board in October, says he signed up as a volunteerbecause he liked the idea of being able to reach students in developing countries who otherwisecouldnt afford a business education. His primary role is to develop courses for the school, but hesalso helping the school with its accreditation process and other initiatives."In my career, Ive been mainly teaching people who could afford to either pay for expensive MBAs ortake out large amounts of loans and then hope to pay them back," he says. "The concept of theschool really struck me as worthwhile because I recognized we could have a big impact on someindividual who we would never see apply to NYU or any top business schools."Winers zeal appears to be contagious. There are more than 800 academics and subject enthusiastsaround the world who have volunteered to help with the school, whether by assisting students withassignments or developing the curriculum, Reshef says. The outpouring of interest has taken Reshefby surprise. He who says he gets an e-mail almost every day from someone in the higher educationcommunity who wants to volunteer their time."Its a great feeling. It happened to be that we are here at the right time doing the right thing andpeople seem to love it, so weve gotten a great welcome," Reshef says. "I dont know how else todescribe it, but the world is hugging us."
UN announces launch of world’s first tuition-free, online universityMay 19, 2009A leading arm of the United Nations working to spread the benefits of information technology todayannounced the launch of the first ever tuition-free online university.As part of this year‘s focus on education, the UN Global Alliance for Information and CommunicationTechnology and Development (GAID) presented the newly formed University of the People, a non-profit institution offering higher education to the masses.―This year the Global Alliance has focused its attention on education [and] how ICT can advanceeducation goals around the world,‖ Serge Kapto from GAID told a press conference at UNHeadquarters in New York.For hundreds of millions of people around the world higher education is no more than a dream, ShaiReshef, the founder of the University of the People, told reporters. They are constrained by finances,the lack of institutions in their region, or they are not able to leave home to study at a university forpersonal reasons.Mr. Reshef said that this University opened the gate to these people to continue their studies fromhome and at minimal cost by using open-source technology, open course materials, e-learningmethods and peer-to-peer teaching.Admission opened just over two weeks ago and without any promotion some 200 students from 52countries have already registered, with a high school diploma and a sufficient level of English as entryrequirements.Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss itsthemes with their peers and take a test all online. There are voluntary professors, post-graduatestudents and students in other classes who can also offer advice and consultation.The only charge to students is a $15 to $50 admission fee, depending on their country of origin, and aprocessing fee for every test ranging from $10 to $100. For the University to sustain its operation, itneeds 15,000 students and $6 million, of which Mr. Reshef has donated $1 million of his own money.
Social networks provide new lessons in learning Story Highlights University of the People launches to provide tuition-free online degrees New venture uses social networks as key to learning Difficulties of accreditation face University of the People E-learning has been booming and peer-to-peer study formats growingBy LARA FARRARSeptember 9, 2009As millions of students across the world go back to school this month, 178 students from 49 countrieswill turn on their computers and step onto the virtual campus of the worlds first global, tuition-freeonline university.Called University of the People, the non-profit, California-based endeavor comes from Israelientrepreneur Shai Reshef who says he founded the school to provide higher education to those whomight otherwise never have access to it."Our mission is to change peoples lives," said Reshef, who also is the chairman of Cramster.com, anonline study community for college students.Starting in 1989, Reshef served as the head of Kidum Group, an educational services companybased in Israel, which he sold to Kaplan, one of the worlds largest test preparation companies, in2005. He also chaired an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool."We want to be an option for people who dont have any other option," he said.There has been no shortage of interest. Since the school started enrolling students in April, nearly2,000 people from 142 countries have applied. Reshef says the online institution will need 15,000students over the next four years in order to be sustainable and will need $6 million to fund theventure, of which $1 million he will provide.To attend, students must have a high school diploma, speak English and pay admission fees rangingfrom $15 to $50, with those from poorer countries paying less and those from richer countries payingmore.Students will also have to pay to take exams. In all, it will cost around $4,000 for students to completetheir studies and gain a qualification.
The school initially will offer bachelors degrees in business administration and computer science.Curriculum consists of around 40 courses, which will take between four and six years to complete.This years freshman class includes pupils ages 16 to 61. Indonesia has the highest number ofstudents enrolled, followed by the United States, Brazil and Nigeria.Now that University of the People has proven it can recruit students, the next challenge it faces iswhether it can keep them enrolled."That is a concern," said Reshef."One of the main issues with online universities is retention."While e-learning has been booming in recent years -- in 2007, nearly 4 million students in the U.S.took at least one course online, according to the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit dedicated tointegrating online learning into higher education -- a challenge educators often face is how to keepstudents engaged in virtual classrooms.Make it socialTo try to solve this problem, the University of the People is turning to an activity that already keepsmillions of people occupied on the Internet everyday: social networking.The University of the Peoples staff of volunteer and retired professors will post readings and lecturesin an online repository for students to retrieve and study.Materials come for free from other universities via platforms such as the Open CoursewareConsortium, which provides open access to the syllabi, lecture notes, exams and reading lists from1,800 classes offered at MIT. The university will also use course material from Yale University, saidReshef."Basically what we do is we take everything that is out there and bring it together," he said.After the students complete their homework, it is mandatory for them to link up with classmates onlineto discuss the weeks curriculum. Unless a student needs special help, teachers will supervisediscussions rather than lead them, said Reshef."We believe the social networking we build around our programs will serve as a cement to keepstudents with each other and stay in our program," said Reshef."We are fitting the current culture into the academic culture."However, online education experts are raising questions, particularly surrounding whether Universityof the People can become accredited.To achieve accreditation, a college must prove it can meet a number of quality assurances set forthby an accrediting body, including breadth and depth of coursework and student test results. Reshef
said the university would apply for accreditation with an agency in the U.S. but declined to disclosefurther plans."We are not making any promises," he told CNN.John Bourne, executive director of the Sloan Consortium, believes the University of the People mayface problems."Can you accredit something where students are learning themselves from materials? Maybe," hetold CNN."Testing outcomes capability -- what students can do or how well students test -- may be a way theUniversity of the People can succeed in its model."If that works, then that would be evidence accreditation might be warranted. I still think it will behard."New ways to learnHowever, there is evidence that could work in favor of the University of the Peoples cause.A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that "on average, students inonline learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.""The current methodology is based on the lecture, and that is a thousand-year-old model that iscompletely inappropriate with the new generation," Don Tapscott, author of "Grown Up Digital: Howthe Net Generation is Changing Your World", told CNN."If it is shown that there are better models of learning than the current model, then the credentialingfunction of the old model will be weakened," said Tapscott."The Internet is a new mode of production. It was inevitable that peers would come together andcreate an online university."Other organizations are also experimenting with Web 2.0 platforms, like social networking sites andblogs, to tap into the ways in which younger generations are wired to the web.In January, Nature Education, launched Scitable, a social network platform around an onlineencyclopedia of freely-published scientific articles.Like Facebook, Scitable users create personal profiles. Unlike Facebook, members share informationabout genetic research instead of exchanging vacation pictures.Nature Education started the venture in an attempt to reignite student interest in science, said VikramSavkar, publishing director of Nature Education, who noted that 40 percent of students in the U.S.who start college studying science end up switching majors by the time they graduate.
"One of the things we recognized is the materials being provided are not adequate for youngergenerations who are growing up in a world where information is dynamic, shareable and bite-sized,"said Savkar."We are creating a global classroom for science and allowing people to freely collaborate. We want toput high quality teaching and learning materials into the hands of anybody and everybody who wantsto become a scientist," he added."Sharing data and sharing ideas and coming up with joint conclusions is at the heart of how scienceworks. It is about leveraging each others
Israeli starts 1st tuition-free online universityBy JAMAL HALABYMay 16, 2009An Israeli entrepreneur who has started what is believed to be the worlds first tuition-free onlineuniversity said Saturday he hopes the effort will expand education to less fortunate people around theworld.Shai Reshef said University of the People has about 150 students from 35 countries who haveenrolled since the school began last week. He hopes to expand the program to include 15,000students in four years.―Its a simple idea. Take social networking and apply it to academia,‖ said Reshef, who helpeddevelop several other Internet-based education businesses in Europe.―There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who graduated high school and couldntmake it to university either because they didnt have money, or there arent universities where theylive or they couldnt relocate,‖ said Reshef, the universitys founder and president.He spoke on the sidelines of an international economic meeting in Jordan sponsored by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.Reshef said he funded the Pasadena, California-based institution with an initial $1 million and washoping to raise another $5 million from private donors. He said some of the professors arevolunteering their time.Students must pay a nominal application fee up to $50 and examination fees up to $100, he said.Students in poorer countries pay less than those in more developed countries.The university, which is seeking accreditation in the United States, offers two undergraduateprograms in business administration and computer science in English.___Associated Press Writer Dale Gavlak contributed to this report.___
100 Most Creative People in BusinessBy ANYA KAMENETZJune 2009 There are no rules about creativity. Which made constructing our list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business a tricky task. We looked for dazzling new thinkers, rising stars, and boldface names who couldnt be ignored. We avoided people weve profiled in the recent past. We emphasized those whose creativity addresses a larger issue -- from the future of our energy infrastructure to the evolution of philanthropy to next-generation media. So read on. Enjoy. Quibble. Complain. 37: Shai Reshef..Founder, University of the PeopleCollege tuition in the U.S. has risen more since 1990 than theprice of any other good or service. Thats why Shai Reshefdecided to commit his fortune -- made when he sold a for-profit educational-services firm to Kaplan in 2005 -- toopening a tuition-free, online-only, open-source university.University of the People will charge tiny registration and examfees ($15 to $100) and rely on volunteer professors andopen-source content. Hundreds of students on five continentshave enrolled, and Reshef hopes his university will serve as aglobal model for how to educate a new generation. "There arehundreds of millions of people around the world unable toafford higher education," he says. "We are offering them analternative." Class will be in session in fall 2009.
Its Time to Give BackSerial entrepreneur Shai Reshef launches University of the People, afree online university for students who cannot afford tuition.By NICOLE MARIE RICHARDSONApril 20, 2009Shai Reshef, a self-made millionaire, has a lot of experience starting businesses. In 1989, he helpedto transform a small Israeli test-prep company, Kidum Group, with only $100,000 in yearly revenueinto the largest for-profit educational services company in Israel. Reaching nearly $25 million inrevenue, the company was snapped up by the larger test prep giant Kaplan in 2005. Reshef is alsocredited with starting the first online university in Europe in 2001. The venture, based in theNetherlands, wasnt very successful but was acquired by Sylvan Learning Systems, now LaureateEducation.Reshef has now turned his sights to starting the first tuition-free online university for disadvantagesstudents. The new school has opened its doors, figuratively speaking, and is open for enrollmentbeginning this week. Reshef, the founder and president of The University of the People (UoP), visitedInc.coms Nicole Marie Richardson in New York City to discuss his new venture and its intriguingtuition-free business model.How did you come up with the idea for University of the People?Shai Reshef: I started the first online university outside of North America, in the Netherlands, in2001. And while it was clear that it could reach people from all over the world, it was also clear that itwas expensive and most potential students could not afford it. Additionally, I became the chairman ofCramster.com [an online study community]in September 2008. It was the first time I realized how strong the education community is--how people really jump in and help each other with answering homework questions and understanding material. I said, well, that is the combination that is needed: Taking what the Internet can offer and bringing it to the people. How will you tap into this community to attract students and teachers? Reshef: I want students that dont have any other alternative. Im going to the Third World to look for students who have graduated high school, who have twelve years of education, have the properEnglish, have access to a computer--however, they were unable to attend university because they
dont have the financial means or access to higher education institutions. I dont have a hugemarketing budget. We believe that because we are tuition free, people will find us.As for the professors, I believe that there are a lot of retired professors or even full-time professorswho would like the cause and be willing to devote even one to two hours per week to help studentsfrom the Third World or even students from their own countries who need help. Going back to thecommunity--people really want to help each other.Will you compete with other accredited universities?Reshef: Definitely. Were seeking accreditation as soon as we can, and we will be competitive withany other accredited school. We will offer a great education, but were not planning to be an IvyLeague university.How will classes work?Reshef: Students will choose the courses they want, and each course will be divided into 14 differentlessons, 20 students per lesson, over 14 weeks. Each week will start with an online text-based lectureto ensure that students without broadband can read it. Then some reading material will be assignedwith discussion questions. During the week, students will discuss the topics between themselves, andthe entire online education community with volunteering professors, graduate students and expertsare made available for those who have questions. The following week, students will take a quiz tomake sure they understand the material and, at the end of the 14 weeks, they will take a physicalexam that is graded, which determines if they go on to the next course.How do you make sure that students dont cheat on tests?Reshef: Thats a temptation. The simple answer is, when you finish a course, you go to a physicallocation, a testing center, where someone checks your photo ID and then the test is sent to us. Whenyou attended school did they ever check if you were the student you said you were?For big exams, yes!Reshef:Did they check I.D. when you handed in an assignment or check if you wrote it?No, of course not.Reshef: The point is that its important to have physical locations and verification of ID. But, the truthis, the university system is built on honesty. And if you want to cheat, you are able to cheat.So the cost of attending the university is totally free?Reshef: Not completely. Students are paying a nominal fee to be accepted to the university, and takea class. If they decide to take an exam in order to get credit, they have to pay for it. Each exam willcost between $10 and $100, depending on the country the student is in. Students from poor ThirdWorld countries will pay about $10; those from a rich country, surprise, surprise, it will be about $100.A degree is issued after about 40 courses. So the cost is $400 for a Third World student, and about$4,000 for students from rich countries. Scholarships and loans will be offered also, but again, its upto the community to be able to support the students.
However, we are waiving all costs for the first 300 students that enroll for the first and possibly thesecond semester. We appreciate them taking a chance on this experimental education model.I read that start-up costs for this endeavor are running about $5 million. Where will you raisethe money from?Reshef: I myself put a million dollars in to start it. The rest will come from two sources: Either frompeople who donate small amounts of money, using PayPal to donate directly from our website or richpeople who think that its a great cause, as well as companies.Whos helping to raise money?Reshef: [Laughing] Unless you are the one willing to do it… Well, at this point, it will be me. Youknow, its funny, well, its not funny, but I have no experience in raising money! All my life, I did thingsfor profit. And I never asked people to donate. I sold stuff, and people paid for what I sold. Its a newexperience for me. So I guess a year from now I will be able to tell you if its easy or hard, or if I cantdo it and I need someone who can do it better than myself.Are some people already on board?Reshef: Oh yeah, actually, the non-profit company, called The University of the People, is registeredin California already. We have our headquarters in Pasadena. And we have people working all overthe world on this. So I have a few academics working on the academic program; technologicalpeople, both looking at the different technologies and starting design. Were open for enrollmentbeginning the week of April 20th for 300 lucky students to begin in September. Interested studentsand professors can learn more at www.UoPeople.org.Why are you doing this?Ive made enough money. Now, its time to give back.
Arianna HuffingtonPosted: October 21, 2010 11:49 AM100 Game Changers, Millions of Votes, Here Are Your Ultimate 12Last month we announced HuffPosts 2010 Game Changers -- 100 innovators, visionaries, and leaders who arechanging the way we look at the world and the way we live in it. And we asked you to weigh in on who the UltimateGame Changer is in each of our 12 categories: Politics, Entertainment, Style, Tech, Business, Travel, Green,Sports, Food, Education, Media, and Impact (where we salute those changing the game when it comes tophilanthropy and service).The response was tremendous. You cast over 3 million votes. Thank you!Now its time to reveal your picks for the Ultimate 12.They are an eclectic mix of those accustomed to the spotlight and those who have been working under the radar.And there were more than a few surprises. For instance, despite the presence of a number of superstar athletes inSports, you voted in Amy Palmiero-Winters & Catherine Hughes, two below-the-knee amputees who show thatdisabilities need not be an end to dreams of athletic triumph.And while our Style Game Changers included style and fashion icons such as Tom Ford and Paulina Porizkova, andred carpet regulars Ashley and Mary Kate Olson, you selected Joe Bozich, who runs a garment factory in theDominican Republic that pays its workers a living wage.So check out the slideshow below to see who the HuffPost community selected as the Ultimate Game Changers.And it wont be long before we start putting together next years list of Game Changers, so be on the lookout forthose people who are pushing the envelope in their fields -- who are willing to look at things and take the risk ofsaying, "I think I have a better way."Congratulations again to our 100 HuffPost Game Changers, who we will be celebrating at a party next Thursday(watch for pictures and coverage of the event). And a special round of virtual applause for the Ultimate 12.
Partnership to Further Global Quest by N.Y.U.By TAMAR LEWINPublished: June 8, 2011New York University, well on its way to becoming the first truly global university, is starting a newpartnership with the University of the People, a unusual nonprofit online school offering free classesto students around the world.With the collaboration, students who show exceptional promise after at least a year of studies with theUniversity of the People could apply to N.Y.U.‘s Abu Dhabi campus and be eligible for financial aid.The University of the People, created two years ago by Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur, offersprograms in business administration and computer science, using mostly volunteer professors andcourse materials available free online; it is not yet accredited. The programs have attracted 1,000English-speaking students from 115 countries, including Haitians who have been living in tent citiessince the earthquake in January 2010, Sudanese refugees, and a considerable number of studentsfrom China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam, university officials said.―When I met Shai last year, I told him that we are so committed to his agenda that we have to bepartners,‖ John Sexton, the president of N.Y.U. said in an interview. ―Our mission is spreading oureducation and knowledge, and if we can find some amazing kids from sub-Saharan Africa or Haitithrough this wonderful vehicle of the University of the People and set an example among elite schoolswith resources, so much the better.‖Mr. Sexton said there were no specific promises of slots for University of the People students, but heexpected a few might be admitted to the Abu Dhabi campus in the entering class of 2012.N.Y.U.‘s highly selective campus there, paid for by Abu Dhabi, the richest of the United ArabEmirates, has just finished its first year of operations, with 150 students from 39 countries, includingsome from wealthy Emirati families and others who were raised in poverty. The university usesoutside groups to scout for top students and flies hundreds of likely candidates to Abu Dhabi forweekend visits.For next year‘s entering class, Mr. Sexton said, N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi received 5,854 applications andoffered admission to 196 students, or 3.3 percent. (By comparison, Harvard admitted 6 percent of itsapplicants this year, and 7 percent last year.) Although the cost of attending N.Y.U., whether inWashington Square or Abu Dhabi, is among the highest in the United States, at about $53,000 ayear, the Persian Gulf campus offers generous financial aid.―In Abu Dhabi, we‘re able to give financial aid at the same level as places like Harvard andPrinceton,‖ said Mr. Sexton, who announced this year that N.Y.U. planned to open a campus inShanghai in 2013.
Several N.Y.U. faculty members and administrators have been working with the University of thePeople on a volunteer basis since it began. Russell Winer, chairman of the marketing department atN.Y.U.‘s Stern School of Business, is chairman of the University of the People businessadministration department; Alexander Tuzhilin, a professor of information systems at the SternSchool, serves as chairman of the University of the People computer science department; and PaulAffuso, an associate dean at the Stern School, is the University of the People‘s chief financial officer.Mr. Sexton said he hoped the collaboration would encourage more N.Y.U. faculty and graduatestudents to work with the online institution.―It‘s almost unbelievable,‖ Mr. Reshef said. ―Most of our students had no alternative for highereducation before we opened the gates for them, and now the most successful may be able to furtherpursue their dreams by attending one of the best universities in the world.‖A version of this article appeared in print on June 9, 2011, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Partnership To Further Global Quest By N.Y.U..
Traditional Higher Ed Opens Doors for Tuition-Free Online UniversityBy: Sarah KesslerJune 29, 2011Online universities have earned a reputation among traditional higher education institutions as businesses that offerlow-quality degrees in exchange for hefty debt. But online University of the People challenges the stereotype.The University is completely tuition free. Its mission is not to turn a profit, but rather to create a truly globalopportunity for education. A thousand students who live in 115 different countries are taught by members of theuniversity‘s core of 2,000 volunteers. Traditional universities are starting to open their doors to People‘s free,nontraditional counterpart.In May, New York University announced it would accept students from University of the People at its Abu Dhabicampus. On Tuesday, HP invited the free university‘s students to become virtual interns with its Catalyst Initiative —a global consortia of 56 organizations, most of them universities, that focuses on projects related to improving STEMeducation.―I think it‘s important to support collaboration between the formal and informal education space,‖ says JeannetteWeisschuh, HP‘s director of education initiative. ―We believe educators from the formal space can learn from theinformal space. … I wouldn‘t say it‘s a revolution, but its an evolution of the existing education space.‖The consortium will select qualified interns who apply through University of the People to work virtually with itspartners on projects that could include setting up webinars and developing some software elements.University of the People offers two degree programs, one in business administration and one in computer science.Working with HP‘s consortium partners gives students a virtual equivalent to the internships that many students atphysical universities get during summer internships. But they can have the opportunity even if they‘re working froman Internet cafe in a remote area of the world, as many of them are.NYU has offered a further bridge to traditional education by inviting University of the People students to apply to itsAbu Dhabi campus. Even though University of the People is not accredited, NYU will use performance in its classesto assess students for admission. It will also make some of those classes eligible for credit transfer, giving the freeschool‘s curriculum something like a nod of approval, says Shai Reshef, the founder of University of the People.―NYU Abu Dhabi has distinguished itself not only by the quality of its students and the selectivity of its admissions,but also by its broad international reach,‖ said John Sexton, the president of NYU, in a statement. ―That diversity ispart of what draws young people of such talent to NYU Abu Dhabi.‖Reshef says the relationship is focused on the Abu Dhabi campus partly because that campus has more moneyavailable for scholarships. Most, if not all, of his students would need full scholarships to attend.―People who one year ago couldn‘t think about higher education at all, all of the sudden can think about NYU,‖Reshef says.
University of the People: Tuition-free higher educationBy Daniel de VisePublished: June 14, 2011At a time when top national universities charge $50,000 a year in tuition and living expenses,University of the People represents quite an anomaly.The Pasadena, Calif., nonprofit university offers college coursework to about 1,000 studentsworldwide essentially for free. The only charge is a one-time application fee of $10 to $50, whichvaries according to the comparative wealth of the student‘s home nation.Professors and deans donate their labors. Founder Shai Reshef has just two paid academicemployees. Students access and download assignments online. Class discussions take place in old-fashioned text-based chat rooms, which enable students to participate on the most marginal ofcomputers.―The idea is to open the gate for anyone who wants to study,‖ Reshef said during a visit to TheWashington Post.Founded in 2009, University of the People claims to be the world‘s first tuition-free online university―dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education‖. The institutionexploits the growing reach and falling cost of online study.Some volunteer administrators and faculty come from Columbia, NYU and other prestigiousuniversities, drawn, Reshef said, by the potentially transformational power of a free, online, globaluniversity. Formal partners include Yale Law School; NYU plans to offer some of Reshef‘s studentstransfer to its campus in Abu Dhabi.The biggest drawback to Reshef‘s school is that it lacks accreditation. There‘s little hope for hisstudents to transfer their credits to any other university until it gains accreditation. Reshef says he‘sworking with an as-yet-unnamed accreditor.The potential customer base is vast: students around the world who lack the funds for universitystudy, or from places where there are no universities, as well as women who are barred from highereducation for cultural reasons.To date, about 30,000 people have applied to the school, Reshef said. Only 1,000 have been met theschool‘s two comparatively modest admission criteria: every student must have a high school diplomaand English proficiency.Current students come from 115 nations. The United States and Indonesia are best represented(being the third and fourth most populous nations), along with parts of the Middle East and Africa.
Reshef says he has a corps of more than 2,000 volunteer professors, most of whom don‘t yet haveanything to do. Faculty who teach courses are paid a token honorarium of a few hundred dollars percourse. Reshef says he is eager to enroll more students.The university offers courses in just two areas, business administration and computer science,chosen because they are in the most demand globally and because they are ―culturally neutral,‖taught in essentially the same way everywhere, he said.Educating students is only half of the school‘s mission, he said: just as important is ―broadening theirmind, opening them up to the world,‖ by enabling interaction among students from several differentnations in a single chat group.Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur, says he draws no salary and is, in fact, among the university‘s majordonors, giving back some of the wealth he amassed as a for-profit higher education executive inprevious decades. He sold his Kidum Group in 2005 to Kaplan, part of The Washington Post Co.He plans to phase in a nominal fee next year to cover the cost of processing course exams. This, too,will be on a sliding scale according to each student‘s ability to pay. It will bring the total expense for afour-year education to about $350 for someone in a developing nation, and to something under$4,000 for more prosperous students.Reshef contends there is no potential limit on enrollment.―We have 2,000 volunteers,‖ he said. ―We don‘t know what to do with them.‖By Daniel de Vise | 02:19 PM ET, 06/14/2011
A College Education for All, Free and OnlineBy: Kevin CareyJuly 10, 2011 All around the world, people have been waiting for someone like Shai Reshef to come along. Reshef is the founder and president of the University of the People, a tuition-free online institution that enrolled its first class of students in 2009. UoPeople strives to serve the vast numbers of students who have no access to traditional higher education. Some cant afford it, or they live in countries where there are simply no good colleges to attend. Others live in rural areas, or identify with a culture, an ethnicity, or a gender that is excluded from public services. UoPeople students pay an application fee of between $10 and $50 and must have a high-school diploma and be proficient in English. There are also small fees for grading final exams. Otherwise, its free. The university takes advantage of the growing body of free, open-access resourcesavailable online. Reshef made his fortune building for-profit higher-education businesses during the rise of theInternet, and he noticed a new culture of collaboration developing among young people who grew up in a wiredworld. So UoPeople relies heavily on peer-to-peer learning that takes place within a highly structured curriculumdeveloped in part by volunteers. The university plans to award associate and bachelors degrees, and it is nowseeking American accreditation.Rather than deploy the most sophisticated and expensive technology, UoPeople keeps it simple—everythinghappens asynchronously, in text only. As long as students can connect their laptops or mobile devices to atelecommunications network, somewhere, they can study and learn.For most of humanity, this is the only viable way to get access to higher education. When the university polledstudents about why they had enrolled, the top answer was, "What other choice do I have?"Some observers have wondered how effective such an unorthodox learning model can be. But UoPeoples twocourses of study—business administration and computer science—were selected to be practical, culturally neutral,and straightforward.
The university has also accumulated an impressive array of peers and associates. UoPeoples provost, David HarrisCohen, was previously a top administrator at Columbia University. In June, New York University announced that itwould consider transfer applications from students who complete a year at UoPeople. A few weeks later, Hewlett-Packard announced that UoPeople students would be eligible for the companys online-research internshipprogram.To date, UoPeople has enrolled just over 1,000 students in more than 115 countries. Reshef says he believes thatthe very act of putting students from different cultures in close collaboration is a step toward peace. He believes theuniversity will grow to 10,000 students in five years. At that point, he says, it will be financially sustainable.That seems realistic. The university has received thousands of applications and more than 350,000 "likes" onFacebook.The scale of the global population lacking access to higher education is gargantuan—Reshef puts it at 100 millionpeople worldwide. Its outlandish to think that theyll get it through the construction of American-style colleges anduniversities—the most expensive model of higher education known to humankind, and getting more so every year.Low-cost, online higher-education tools are the future for most people. What remains to be seen is whetherAmerican institutions understand the opportunity and the obligation this future represents.There are numerous American colleges and universities now sitting on multibillion-dollar endowments that grewsignificantly in part because of government tax breaks for charitable donations and capital gains. They have globallyrecognized brands that are worth billions more, names so powerful that students from the other side of the world aremagnetically attracted to these institutions. They have accumulated the brightest scholars and students, many ofwhom loudly and publicly express their concerns about global-economic injustice.Yet what exactly are these institutions doing to redress those injustices with the service they are built to provide—higher education? In most cases, virtually nothing. John Sexton, the president of NYU, appears to be one of the elitehigher-education leaders who most understands whats at stake: He has created a groundbreaking new NYUcampus in Abu Dhabi and is looking to expand into China next. His enthusiasm for the UoPeople is no surprise. Noris the presence of other NYU administrators in UoPeople leadership roles. Yale University has led the way inproviding open-education resources, such as free, high-quality lecture videos, as have universities includingCarnegie Mellon and MIT.But those institutions are the exceptions. Harvard has made back some of the fortune it lost in the Wall Streetcasino, but it seems to have no inclination to use that money to educate more students. Undergraduates at theUniversity of California at Berkeley can minor in global poverty, but Berkeley isnt using newly available online-learning tools to actually reduce global poverty by helping impoverished students earn college degrees. And whilesome institutions are publishing open-education resources, they arent offering degrees to match.Most elite American colleges are content to spend their vast resources on gilding their palaces of exclusivity. Theyworry that extending their reach might dilute their brand. Perhaps it might. Righteousness is easy; generosity ishard. In any event, Harvards public-relations wizards managed to spin the universitys decision to subsidize tuitionfor families making three times the median household income as a triumph of egalitarianism. The institution could
easily use a program designed to help desperately needy students living in political, environmental, and economicturmoil to burnish Harvards brand.If Harvard doesnt seize the opportunity, some other university will. Reshef is the first to tell you that he didnt inventany of the tools that UoPeople employs. Hes just the one who decided to build a whole university around the idea ofusing those tools to give students the education they need, the way they need it—free. He wont be the last.If colleges with the means to do so dont contribute to the cause, they will at best have betrayed their obligations andtheir ideals. At worst, they will find themselves curating beautiful museums of a higher-education time gone by.Kevin Carey is policy director of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington.