Through a new partnership with World Computer Exchange, the upstart online institution University of the People hopes to build communication centers in six developing countries over the next six months, allowing students without good Internet access to take online courses.
World Computer Exchange is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding youth access to information technology in developing countries. “We’re trying to go into developing countries that [the university] might not have a lot of students in now,” said Timothy Anderson, World Computer Exchange president.
University of the People, founded in 2009, promises tuition-free education in business administration and computer science. The university says its enrollment includes approximately 500 students from nearly 100 countries.
According to Mr. Anderson, the two institutions are focusing on establishing sites in Zimbabwe, the Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, Haiti, Liberia, and Palestine. Each center would provide students with personal assistance and Internet-accessible workspace, with 20 computers at every location.
Another goal is to develop arrangements with local universities, allowing University of the People students to use their facilities.
World Computer Exchange has ties to partner organizations in 71 countries. Mr. Anderson said the opportunity to work with the University of the People fits as a key part of its mission.
“This is exactly why we’ve been working with these computers, planting them like Johnny Appleseed, all over the world,” he said.
While the organization has previously worked with partners to expand primary and secondary education, the University of the People adds a new element to its agenda, Mr. Anderson said.
“This is a great way to get to the university level,” he said.