The Guardian recently published an article (An online university – with no fees) on the creation of the International University of the People (UoPeople). This is a virtual institution established to give students who wouldn’t traditional contemplate university study, because of financial, geographic or personal reasons, the opportunity to gain a higher education.
UoPeople has been founded by Shai Reshef, who has been involved in the ‘online study community’ Cramster.com. Through this site Shai saw how willing people were to help others in their studies for free in return for commendation and community status, in the case of Cramster ‘karma points’.
It still very early days for UoPeople. As part of the first months rollout they have enrolled almost 180 students studying one of two courses, business administration or computer science. Another major stumbling block is that neither of these courses are accredited.
The use of fully online higher education isn’t a new concept and the failure of UKeU probably hangs over any such idea for the UK, but the emergence of UoPeople is perhaps an indication of why Lord Mandelson is backing a more consumer-led approach to education.