Israeli opens first free online university

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

An Israeli Internet entrepreneur has started what is believed to be the first tuition-free online university.

Shai Reshef said he started the University of the People after is participation in several other online education-based businesses revealed to him just how many people there are around the world who would like to get a higher education, but can’t.

“There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who graduated high school and couldn't make it to university either because they didn't have money, or there aren't universities where they live or they couldn't relocate,” Reshef told Israel’s Ynet news portal.

University of the People works a lot like popular social networking sites, but with a heavy emphasis on college-level learning.

The university currently has 150 students from 35 countries, and Reshef hopes to increase that number to 15,000 within four years.

Reshef injected $1 million in the California-based start-up to get it off the ground, and is now trying to raise and additional $5 million to keep it going. A number of professors have also volunteered their time to help keep initial overhead down.

The University of the People currently offers undergraduate courses in business administration and computer science, and is seeking official accreditation in the US.

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