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U People Partners with Computer Exchange To Support Worldwide Schooling

An online university that offers tuition-free education is teaming up with an organization that works to make computer labs available to young people in developing countries. The University of the People will work with the World Computer Exchange with the goal of enabling qualified people without computers to become students within U People.

The Computer Exchange is a grassroots network of volunteers in 71 countries that provides logistics for finding and deploying computers, materials, and services; training partners and maintaining networks; and building partnerships between universities in rich and poor countries. The organization estimated that, currently, its partners run 2,650 computer labs. As part of the new agreement, the Exchange will promote U People to prospective students using its services.

U People, which isn't currently accredited, offers four undergraduate degrees in computer science and business administration. Its individual courses last 10 weeks and run completely online, using peer-based learning, in which students teach each other in small classes of 15 to 20. Currently there are no fees, no material charges, nor any tuition.

Since its launch in 2009, the university has enrolled 500 students from about 100 countries. It expects to educate 15,000 students in its first five years of operation.

"Our goal is simple: provide higher education to anyone with the drive to learn by creating access to computers with Internet connections," said Shai Reshef, founder and president of the university. "While demand for U People has been great, we have discovered that many qualified applicants are unable to join us because they don't have access to a computer. By partnering with the World Computer Exchange, we will continue to grow our student body, reaching both individuals who have the technological resources to study with us and those who lack them."

"We strive to make the best use of the Internet and what better use is there than giving people access to education?" said Timothy Anderson, president of the Exchange. "We are pleased to be partnering with [University of the People] to provide the necessary digital tools for studying which are in such short supply in many developing nations."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.