University of the People, the world’s first tuition-free university founded by Israeli serial entrepreneur Shai Reshef, announced that it has received accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council.
The accreditation comes just in time for the first seven students who will graduate from UoPeople in April. They will now receive their degree from the freshly accredited institution.
University of the People was founded in 2008 to give underserved learners from around the globe access to high class, tuition-free education. The faculty and deans are all volunteers from renown universities who offer their work for free to UoPeople.
Other than Coursera or Udacity, UoPeople is a non-profit organization that charges only a small registration fee. Over the years Reshef and the team have slowly built partnerships with leading universities whose deans support UoPeople’s mission.
UoPeople currently has 700 students from 142 countries enrolled in its degree programs in business administration and computer science. 30% of the students come from Africa, 25% from the US but those were mostly born outside of the country.
Students pay between $0 and $50 USD to apply, depending on the wealth of the country they live in. The exam fees that are proctored in the student’s home country are around $100 but there are different scholarships available for those who cannot even afford these fees.
Thanks to the accreditation Shai Reshef plans to expand UoPeople significantly over the coming years, aiming for 5000 students by 2016.
I had the chance to interview Shai Reshef almost exactly three years ago to talk about his experiences in higher education and what led to the launch of University of the People.