Internet connection + English = college degree. The University of the People wants to bring online education to anyone who can speak English and access the Internet, and to do it for as little as $15 a course. The goal? A real college degree from an accredited school. Shai Reshef has a vision: soon, anyone with an Internet connection and some proficiency in English can take classes online at his new “University of the People.” And not just classes—the school will be accredited, offering actual degrees in subjects like computer science. Charges will be minimal, starting at just $15, and will be based on the student’s country. It sounds too good to be true, but Reshef is enough of a believer in the idea to pump a million dollars of his own into it, and he argues that it can be a self-sustaining nonprofit once it tops 10,000 worldwide students.
I’ve written before about for-profit and online higher education, in which I am generally in favor, but I am not sure what to make of this.
Done right, with people in charge who are dedicated and consistent on the mission (bringing higher education to impoverished people), it can be a real force for positive change.
But, what to do about people who use it as a diploma mill? And how do you guarantee that the core management will keep that proper attitude?
And . . . the question that may make all this moot . . . can it really become self-sustaining?
What do you think?