University of the People is set to offer free online education for Arabic-speaking refugees who lack access to higher education. The initiative, which will also be run mainly by refugees, hopes to help students to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
University of the People (UoPeople), a non-profit, tuition-free, American-accredited online university, announced the creation of UoPeople in Arabic, an online degree-granting school run primarily by refugees and designed for Arabic-speaking refugees
mainly from Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Iraq – and other qualified students. Tuition-free means there is no charge for teaching or instruction.
"Our mission has always been to open the doors of higher education to all qualified students," said Shai Reshef, President of University of the People, in a press release. "UoPeople is proud to announce UoPeople in Arabic to help one of the most overlooked populations on the planet – refugees. By providing refugees with a quality university degree, we can help them create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. If education is the vehicle of transformation, then hope is the fuel propelling it forward."
Over 1,000 refugees enrolled
To date, University of the People has enrolled over 1,000 refugees, 600 of whom are Syrian. Yet these numbers represent only a fraction of the number of refugees seeking a university education. In response to this need, the University decided to develop UoPeople in Arabic which is modeled after UoPeople's existing English-language degree programs, in which over 18,500 students are currently enrolled.
UoPeople is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the University will submit the new degree program for approval as well. While UoPeople does not charge for teaching, students have to pay administration fees of $100 per course. UoPeople in Arabic will charge similar fees, however, it aims to provide full scholarships to those in need.
'An eco-system of study and work for refugees'
"We've created the course content in Arabic to address one of the major obstacles for refugees who want to pursue higher education," said John Sexton, Chairman of the UoPeople President's Council and President Emeritus at New York University. "Not only are we developing a school for refugees, but we will staff the UoPeople in Arabic administrative and academic offices primarily with refugees, many of whom lost their jobs and were forced to flee their countries due to war. Essentially, we're creating an eco-system of study and work for refugees who understand each other's hardships."
UoPeople in Arabic will initially offer associate degrees in Business Administration taught in Arabic. Throughout their courses, students will also be immersed in English language courses tailored to their specific needs, so they can matriculate upon completion of the associate degree into the English-language bachelor's degree program at University of the People.