Online, But Free

From Business Week comes news that online schools need not be overpriced, for profit Behemoths. One of the newest, and most innovative, is tuition free. From the article:

It was just about a year ago that [Shai] Reshef made headlines in the distance learning community with his announcement that he intended to start an online college program using open-source software that would be free to students all over the world, one of just a handful of tuition-free universities. The nonprofit venture, which he named University of the People, attracted attention not only because of its tuition-free mission but also because it had the backing of the U.N.

Overcoming the potential awkwardness of its communist-sounding name, the University of the People now has 300 students, mostly from developing countries. Students from nearly 50 countries are enrolled.

What Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur, discovered was that it doesn’t actually cost much to run an online university. The University of the People is mostly staffed by volunteers, though it does pay some support staff. Reshef needs to raise $5 million; he’s donated $1 million of his own money so far.

Another battle Reshef faces is getting the school accredited. The university currently explains that its classes “May in the future lead towards undergraduate degrees. However, no degrees will be granted until the university obtains proper authorization from relevant authorities.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer