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A Free Online University—Just for Refugees

The three-year program is crowdfunding scholarships.


Back home in Ethiopia, 25-year-old Fatuma was social worker. She’s now one of the 800,000 refugees expected to enter Germany before year’s end—and is without the certifications she needs to continue her work in her new home.

“I would like to continue with my education and my dream is to further my education and continue with my job just like before,” she says in a promotional video for Berlin-based Kiron University. Thanks to Kiron, she may get that chance: The German institution is set to launch a three-year online program to help refugees complete university degrees.

Kiron has partnered with more than 20 international universities to create its unique online program. The first year of learning will include classes in German, English, and general studies (like writing). The second year will focus in on a specific degree program, and will take advantage of popular Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by universities like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. Finally, third year students will have the opportunity to finish their degrees while attending courses in person, at their local partner universities.

To qualify for enrollment in the online program, refugees will only have to submit documents confirming either their refugee status or that they’ve begun the process of applying for it.

Kiron’s founders say the program will be completely free for refugees. The university is in the midst of a €1.2 million ($1.35 million) fundraising drive to cover tuition for its first 1,000 students.

Markus Kressler, cofounder of Kiron, explained to the British newspaper Independent that he is motivated by “that fire that blazes in the eyes of refugees whenever they talk about their studies.” He notes, however, that it is often difficult for refugees to begin or even continue their studies once they have arrived in Germany.

“That is why we have made it easy, through the support of great partner universities, and have actually managed to allow refugees get into higher education, from everywhere, at any time, and without tuition,” he said.

(Via Huffington Post)

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