Michèle Leaman

Michèle works with faculty, administrators, and students to change complex institutional systems to become more supportive environments for social entrepreneurship and changemaking.

Tuition-free? Welcome to the University of the People

Last week, we sat down with Shai Reshef, Ashoka Fellow and social entrepreneur in higher education. Reshef is the founder and president of the University of the People. UoPeople is devoted to providing universal access to quality, post-secondary education to qualified students, all online.

When Reshef says he wants ‘universal access,’ he means it: UoPeople is tuition free. The University uses open source materials and open educational resources, so that students are not thwarted by expensive textbooks. To date, UoPeople has over 600 students from almost 100 countries.

We asked Reshef what brick-n-mortar type institutions have to fear if his idea goes to scale and spreads globally. “Nothing.” he said smiling. “If University of the People becomes an alternative to Harvard then I’ve missed the point…It’s better to have decent education for all than exclusive education for few.”

Currently, Reshef is working hard to follow through on his commitment to get Haitian students back to college after this year’s devastating earthquake, which completely destroyed 28 of Haiti’s 32 major universities. Read about Reshef’s vision for UoPeople in Haiti.