I first met Shai Reshef, the indefatigable force behind University of the People, at DLD in 2009. Since then I have come to know Shai as someone who cares deeply about using education to empower people all around the world. He is taking quite a different approach from the MOOCs by scaling UoPeople much more slowly and deliberately and working diligently towards accreditation.
The approach has two premises. First, in many countries around the world a degree plays a dramatic role in changing the income trajectory for individuals. This has also been the insight behind Vittana which provides student loans. Second, Shai is looking to build a self sustaining model. To that end while courses at UoPeople are free, they charge a $10-50 application fee and a $100 exam fee per course. Because of UoPeople’s very lean model they can become self funding with only a few thousand students. From there Shai believes they can grow to tens and eventually hundreds of thousand students globally.
In the meantime of course $100 per course is still a huge amount of money in many parts of the world. Based on my advice, UoPeople has rolled out a micro scholarship program. Here you can give as little as $10 to help a student with his or her exams (there are mostly men because women currently receive a scholarship from HP). So if you are feeling fortunate because of where you are in life, go and help someone get the education to make their life better.