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American University Opens Gates to Refugees Worldwide, Tuition-Free

UoPeople, UNHCR, HIAS launch collaborative project to offer tuition-free degrees to refugees worldwide. 
University of the People ( President Shai Reshef in partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced the launch of a collaborative project opening the gates to tuition-free, accredited higher education for refugees and asylum seekers all over the world.

UoPeople together with UNHCR have established a special policy to admit refugees and asylum seekers, in cases where official transcripts and documents could not be obtained. The unique policy was approved by DETC, the US national educational accreditation agency of UoPeople, thereby enabling refugees to pursue higher education and earn a university degree.

UoPeople is granting scholarships to African refugees and asylum seekers as part of a special pilot made available with the collaboration of Amnesty International, HIAS and ARDC (African Refugee Development Center). The first group of students has now formally begun their first term at the Californian virtual university.

“UoPeople is reaching out to the least upwardly mobile population – refugees and asylum seekers – the ones most in line with our mission, to open the gates to higher education to all qualified students and those most in need of education in order to overcome other barriers,” said Reshef. “This model of collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency and HIAS can be replicated wherever there are refugees and can be scaled to serve millions of refugees around the world, providing them with access to higher education.”

According to Reshef the academic activity of the African asylum seekers who have either been accepted to the University, or who are currently in the process of enrollment, has been built upon UoPeople’s successful experience working with over 250 earthquake survivors and Internally Displaced Persons in Haiti, and will be a model for refugees world-wide who meet the University’s academic criteria and are eager to access higher education.

“The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide, has, for the first time since post World War II, exceeded 50 million people,” said Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR Representative. “In order to improve the welfare of these people we commit ourselves to stepping up the efforts to collaborate with forward-thinking organizations like UoPeople. Accessing education is the key to human dignity, to advancement, and to a better future.”

UoPeople has established a special scholarship fund for refugees who can’t afford even the University’s minimal examination fees; the first donation has already been received. A total of 300 African refugees and asylum seekers began the process of applying for the special scholarship.

About University of the People:
University of the People (UoPeople) is the world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. Using open-source technology, Open Educational Resources, peer-to-peer learning, and the assistance of academic volunteers, UoPeople is designed to provide access to university studies for qualified high school graduates, despite financial, geographic, societal or personal constraints.

UoPeople offers Associate and Bachelor degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science and is currently in the process of developing a new program in Health Sciences.

Founded in 2009, UoPeople has partnered with Yale ISP law School for research; New York University (NYU) to accept students; Microsoft for scholarships, access to its certificate programs, mentoring, internships and employment opportunities; and Hewlett-Packard, for general support, scholarships for women and internships. The University has enrolled students from 150 different countries and is supported by a network of over 3,000 dedicated volunteers.

The institution has gained the widespread support of leading academics from leading universities around the world. Its Council of Presidents, chaired by New York University President John Sexton, includes Oxford Vice-Chancellor Sir Colin Lucas, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among others. UoPeople is supported by The Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Hewlett Foundation, Fondation Hoffmann, and companies such as HP, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Western Union, Estee Lauder and many more.

About UoPeople President Shai Reshef:
Founder and President of University of the People, Shai Reshef is an educational entrepreneur, with over 25 years of experience in the international education market. President Reshef has been widely recognized for his work with UoPeople. In 2010, the Huffington Post named him the 'Ultimate Game Changer in Education,' and WIRED included him in its list of the 50 people who will change the world. He was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business as well as a Top Global Thinker by Foreign Policy Magazine. Before founding University of the People, Reshef directed KIT e-learning, the first online university in Europe. His TED Talk ( has reached over 1 million viewers since August 2014. More at

Pasadena, CA (PRWEB) December 04, 2014 

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