Imagine attending university and not having to pay tuition. With skyrocketing tuition rates worldwide, many think this is a pipe dream. However, it is not.
University of the People (UoPeople) is my nonprofit, online, tuition-free academic institution. Recently, the University crossed the million fans mark on Facebook -- showcasing the exceptional support of UoPeople's mission to open the gates to higher education for everyone. UoPeople is second, in the number of supporters out of all universities on Facebook, only to Harvard University.
Today, people are sharing, learning, teaching and helping each other online in unprecedented amounts -- making this tendency a natural part of structured education seems inevitable. As the largest social network, it makes sense for Facebook to be looked upon by many as a potential facilitator in education.
Facebook, specifically, is an integral part of the daily activity of UoPeople -- from admissions, throughout student's studies, and all the way through graduation. Applicants and students alike receive feedback on their questions via our University Page and student's network amongst themselves on student-created UoPeople Facebook groups.
The need for education reaches every corner of the world. The University's million supporters hail from developed and developing countries alike, including Ghana, the United States, Iraq, Haiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Peru, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Egypt, France, Sri Lanka, Canada, Palestine, Jordan, Hungary, Tunisia, Philippines, Brazil, Morocco, Mauritius, Argentina, Cambodia and more.
This outpouring of support, while humbling for us, is moreover the calling for a new dawn in higher education. There is no reason for people to still be shut out of higher education. Indeed, additional universities can be built on UoPeople's successful model, which combines available educational resources, open source technology, and the Internet culture together to educate all those deprived everywhere in the world, tuition-free. It will be incredible when governments and nonprofits follow suit.
A million voices encouraging global change; a million individuals clamoring for education. It's only the beginning of the dam breaking to widen educational access for the world.