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World Online College Opens Offering Free Online University Courses


The world’s first free university online?

An Israeli entrepreneur announced in January that he plans to start the University of the People, which he says will use “open-source” courseware (free educational content, available on the Internet) and be available to English-speaking students across the globe.

Shai Reshef says he would charge small fees per course ($15 to $50) and per exam ($10 to $100) at the world online college. People from poor countries would pay less.

Who would teach these free online university courses? Reshef—who has a background in online education in Israel and who runs a homework site for students—plans to use a mix of retired and current professors, career professionals, and master’s degree students.

About 300 distance learning students are expected to enroll for the free online university classes starting this fall. University of the People at first will award bachelor’s degrees in only two subjects: business administration and conmputer science. Startup costs for Reshef: $5 million, of which he says he is chipping in $1 million.

The free university online is not yet accredited, though Shai Reshef plans to apply shortly.