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Friday, November 06, 2015

Kiron University: Open only for refugees

Imagine a university that could provide an education to refugees, wherever they are in the world, for free. 

Not only would this give displaced people a higher chance of employment in their new countries, but it would provide a social and professional network where they can meet others facing similar challenges.

But with 42,500 people being forced from their homes every day, who could afford such a monumental project?

The answer comes, as it does so often these days, in the form of crowd-funding.

Kiron University, which launched with its first students this October, has turned its utopian vision into reality using only the power of online donations and a rapidly expanding team of around 100 volunteers.

The campaign, which ends Friday, asked for €120,000, but has so far raised €233,557 (about $250,000).

Based in Berlin, Germany, the university runs all of its courses online and students have to submit proof of their refugee status in order to enroll.

Currently in a test stage limited to 1,200 students, the university has plans to provide free higher education for all refugees who are able to gain access to the internet via computer, tablet or smart phone, wherever they are in the world. 

How does it work 

Photo: Markus Kressler

Markus Kressler, a co-founder of Kiron, told CNN how the project came about: "The vision came from meeting with and speaking to refugees from Syria last year in Istanbul, just before the massive migration into Europe happened.

"They were clearly a good class of people, who wanted to learn and contribute to society."

He added: "One big barrier for displaced people is that they cannot enroll in normal universities because they do not have access to the proper paperwork. Another barrier is high fees.

"We developed Kiron to be the ideal university for refugees, so, we removed both of these barriers. The other thing we do is to make sure that all our courses are accessible online, so students can continue their courses wherever they end up."

The two points are connected: it is only possible to educate students so cheaply by relying on online courses produced by other universities.

Kiron uses courses put online by existing universities -- including Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and MIT -- to provide courses in engineering, computer science, business administration, architecture and intercultural studies. The courses are certified by the European Credit Transfer System, making each degree program internationally recognized.

However, that's not to say Kiron does not have input in its degree programs. The university produces its own learning materials, third-party content and e-learning technology.
Read more... 

Source: CNN International