Pasadena, CA. Jan 19, 2015 – University of the People ( President Shai Reshef has announced 1,000 places for South African students at the non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online American university for 2015. The decision comes following the news of matric results in early January pointing to an education crisis in South Africa.

South Africa’s 2014 school pass rates of final year students were recently released, indicating a discouraging drop for the first time in five years after changes to the education system. Low quality educational standards have constrained growth in Africa’s second-largest economy, with businesses struggling to employ skilled workers in a country with over a 25 percent unemployment rate. 70 percent of the jobless in South Africa are under 35. In a survey last year by the World Economic Forum, South Africa’s education system was ranked the fifth-lowest among 144 countries, with its score in mathematics and science the worst of the group.

University of the People presents a genuine alternative for South African high school graduates who luck out of securing limited seats in local universities. “There is no need for the thousands of qualified high school graduates who will be left out of higher education this year to remain shut out,” says President Reshef. “University of the People identifies South African high school graduates as students who are driven and ambitious and particularly in need and deserving of access to quality higher education. The right to a quality education mustn’t be a matter of one’s geographical or financial situation; Access to education must be an equal and basic right for all, rather than a privilege for the few.

University of the People believes that access to higher education is a key ingredient in the promotion of financial stability, leading to global economic development and peace. Dedicated to democratizing higher education globally, University of the People exemplifies employing an online solution for potentially millions of people. The University has enrolled students from 150 different countries to date, including 44 from South Africa, where retention rates are comparatively high.

“Online education can be provided at significantly less expense than traditional education and utilizing it can mean the difference for millions of individuals to successfully attain education or remain shut out of education, as is the status quo,” says Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and a 2013 recipient of the South African IT Personality of the year award. Dwolatzky, a strong proponent of digital technology and information in South Africa, sits on University of the People’s Advisory Board for Computer Science.

University of the People is changing the way online learning is perceived through international accreditation, alliances with prestigious educational institutions (such as New York University for accepting students) and partnerships with global corporations (such as Hewlett-Packard for internships and Microsoft for scholarships). The unique focus at the online University is on small classes, peer interaction and personal attention. Online access need only be basic – broadband connections and video capability are not required.

The University offers degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science on a tuition-free basis. Students only pay for assessment fees of $100, meaning that a student can study towards an accredited Bachelor’s Degree for as little as $4000.

South Africa, take heed – young adults in need of education can be serviced with the delivery of quality education at low-cost. It is the viable solution to conquering inequalities in educational attainment and is available at everyone’s fingertips.

About University of the People:

University of the People (UoPeople) is the world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. Using open-source technology, Open Educational Resources, peer-to-peer learning, and the assistance of academic volunteers, UoPeople is designed to provide access to university studies for qualified high school graduates, despite financial, geographic, societal or personal constraints.

UoPeople offers Associate and Bachelor degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science. Founded in 2009, UoPeople has partnered with New York University (NYU) to accept students; Microsoft for scholarships, access to its certificate programs, mentoring, internships and employment opportunities; and Hewlett-Packard, for general support, scholarships for women and internships. The University has enrolled students from 150 different countries and is supported by a network of over 3,000 dedicated volunteers.

The institution has gained the widespread support of leading academics from leading universities around the world. Its Council of Presidents, chaired by New York University President John Sexton, includes Oxford Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Sir Colin Lucas, U.S. Former Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among others. UoPeople is supported by The Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Hewlett Foundation, and companies such as HP, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Western Union, Estee Lauder and many more.

About UoPeople President Shai Reshef:

Founder and President of University of the People, Shai Reshef is an educational entrepreneur, with over 25 years of experience in the international education market. President Reshef has been widely recognized for his work with UoPeople. In 2010, the Huffington Post named him the ‘Ultimate Game Changer in Education,’ and WIRED included him in its list of the ‘50 people who will change the world’. He was named one of Fast Company’s ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ as well as a ‘Top Global Thinker’ by Foreign Policy Magazine. Before founding University of the People, Reshef directed KIT e-learning, the first online university in Europe. Shai Reshef’s TED Talk has reached over 1 million viewers since August 2014, making it one of the highest viewed TED Talks on Education. More at

Contact: Sarah Vanunu, Director of Media Relations
University of the People
US: 626-219-8402
[email protected]