The University of the People is an online university that is open to anyone with a school diploma who can speak English. Many people are excluded from university due to financial or cultural reasons or simply because there are not enough places. However, the team behind the University of the People is convinced that higher education is a right and not a privilege, and they want to realise this right through their university.
The initiators have convinced numerous professors to get involved with the university and to teach there without charge. This keeps costs very low, particularly as the courses are directed at a large number of students. At the same time, the university has no building, and course material is provided free of charge. However, the courses provide clear structures and include the provision of a lot of mutual support. The online materials are kept slim so that even slow internet connections are enough for everyone to use the university’s resources, but this also means that only two programs, business and computer science, are fully accredited. Both programs include skills that transverse other fields such as general education and leadership.
Students work in groups of 20 to 30 people and receive a weekly curriculum, which requires about 15 hours of study. The study week includes active participation in group discussions, a test and a written assignment. Students can always seek help from the university to complete the tasks. These working weeks are provided free of charge, but exams cost 100 USD. However, if students cannot afford the test fees, the university offers a wide range of scholarship opportunities to cover them.