A tuition-free, online model for tertiary education can solve the vast shortage of University seats, impacting millions of people in Africa and around the world. This is the view of University of the People President Shai Reshef, who will be speaking at the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria today, May 8, 2014.

President Reshef will also discuss two collaborative models during this trip to Abuja, which are a clear example of how many qualified students can benefit across Africa and around the world. The first is a private sector partnership. After several months in a pilot phase, the University has embarked on a drive to rapidly increase its footprint and reach for African students. In support of this, Microsoft joined UoPeople in offering of 1000 UoPeople scholarships for African youth. Scholarship recipients are also eligible for professional training from Microsoft, mentorship by Microsoft employees, internships, and job opportunities with Microsoft and their affiliates in Africa, upon graduation. UoPeople sees this collaboration as an extraordinary opportunity to both empower potential African students and encourage other international corporations to follow suit.

The second is a public sector agreement. The Bayelsa State Government of Nigeria has entered a partnership with University of the People in a milestone agreement which will support students towards achieving Bachelor Degrees in Computer Science or Business Administration. This USD$1M collaboration will be carried out through the establishment of a dedicated center for students to access computers and the Internet in Bayelsa. The programme will assist deserving youth who have completed high school in Bayelsa, are proficient in English and have been screened for suitable university education.

“These collaborations and others like them could potentially make higher education accessible to millions of Africans across the continent. I hope that the future success of these monumental partnerships will encourage other companies and governments to join forces with UoPeople and eliminate the barriers to higher education” says President Reshef.

UoPeople’s goal is simple – to democratize higher education, by opening the gates to all qualifies candidates, regardless of financial, geographic, societal or personal constraints. These two collaborations are perfect examples of how this goal can be achieved- through corporate and government collaborations. This is the path for bridging the gap between the existing seats in local universities and the demand for seats by qualified students. Partnering with local governments and international corporations is the way to achieve this goal, and UoPeople hopes that these exciting agreements with Microsoft and the Bayelsa State Government of Nigeria are only the beginning.

About University of the People:

University of the People (UoPeople; is a non-profit, tuition-free, accredited online academic institution dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. UoPeople is designed to provide access to college studies for qualified high school graduates, despite financial, geographic, societal, or personal constraints.

The institution offers Associate and Bachelor degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science.

Founded in 2009, UoPeople has partnered with New York University 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. To date, more than 1700 students from over 143 countries have been accepted.

The organization has gained the widespread support of leading academics. Its Presidents Council, chaired by New York University President John Sexton, includes Oxford Vice-Chancellor Sir Colin Lucas, Rector Emeritus of the Academy of Paris, Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, 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, Western Union and Estee Lauder and many more. UoPeople has received the support of over 1.2 million people on Facebook and garnered media coverage throughout the world.

For more information, prospective students and donors can visit the webpage

About Shai Reshef:

Shai Reshef is the President of University of the People, the world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online university. Reshef has 20 years of experience in the international education market. He appeared on Fast Company magazine’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, Wired magazine’s list of 50 People Changing the World, and was selected as a Top Global Thinker by Foreign Policy Magazine.