Last week the tuition-free online university, University of the People (UoPeople), was accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council, a national accrediting group. The institution was created to reach underprivileged students around the world. Currently,the university educates 700 students from 142 countries in programs such as business administration and computer science. This coming April, its first class – of seven students – will graduate with a recognized degree from an accredited institution.
Now that the school is accredited it hopes to expand to 5,000 students by the year 2016. UoPeople is proving that it is possible to provide higher education for all, at a low cost. Classes are 10 weeks long and usually have 20-30 students in them. Since many students are in areas where they have no access to broadband or video, classes are low tech and rely on text-based open source material.Though students pay no tuition, exams proctored in their home country cost $100. However, the university offers many scholarships for those unable to afford the fee. UoPeople relies heavily on volunteer labor and has made partnerships with New York University, Clinton Global Initiative, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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