University of the People (UoPeople), non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online academic institution, opens its doors to at least 500 Syrian refugees mainly living in Turkey, for a free higher education.
Educational entrepreneur, founder and president of University of the People Shai Reshef answered DHA’s questions about the granting 500 students for Syrian Refugees.
“University of the People has decided that following the situation in Syria to take 500 refugees to teach them for free, majority of them coming from Turkey just because there are my refugees in Turkey. The idea is to take the ones who speak English, because our programmes are in English and teach them computer science and business administration, full degree, accredited American education for free. Because we believe education is the best way to help them to have a better future. Because someone who is educated can help him or herself, can help the family. If they ever go back to Turkey, they can rebuilt Turkey” Reshef told DHA.
He said, they have already accepted 100 students from Syrians in turkey and they aim to accept 250 more students by the end of the next month, adding that UoPeople has received donations and grants from numerous foundations, including Bill Gates Foundation, seeking for more grants.
The mission of UoPeople is to offer affordable programs to any qualified student who is less able to afford a higher education and Syrian refugees need their services “anyone who has a high school diploma and good enough English can study with the UoPeople” he said.
“However we are going to apply a different procedure for Syrian refugees since many of the refugees left Syria without documents that we require for application. Therefore they cannot prove that they had a high school education. As long as they speak good enough English and go process and verifY themselves that they have a high school diploma will be able to study with us. They will also need an internet connection, weather they use a laptop, tablet, pc or even mobile phone and they can start studying with us. We believe that education should be a right but not a privileged. Every person has a right to have a higher education. When we look at the future, the future is not giving them a food right now” he added.
UoPeople has 4 thousand volunteers and students from 180 different countries including 30 from Turkey, he said. “We place them in a class with 20 students and try to a global village. In our university tuition is free however at the end of the each course student pays 100 dollars for each exam so that 4 year education costs 4 thousand dollars. We have a scholarship for those who cannot afford these fees. We granted a scholarship for Syrian refugees so that they will not have to pay any fee. We have 1,300 application from Turkey so far” Reshef said.
Reshef also said that UoPeople works closely with industry leaders to enhance their programs through professional leadership and guidance services and they have foundation partners that offer students financial resources to successfully complete their online degree including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Cooperation and Google Grants.
“The UoPeople President’s Council is formed by distinguished active and alumni leaders from top universities all over the world including New York University, Oxford University, Harward University and University of Berkeley. We are free as well as we keep the quality high” said Reshef.
Gonca Yağcı / London