Online university to provide refugees with higher education

A group of Berlin students have founded an online university to allow refugees to study and take courses.

Due to launch this month, the university promises to grant refugees internationally recognised degrees without fees or the need to provide all the required documentation.

Kiron is currently trying to raise €1.2m (£890,000) from internet donations to cover tuition costs for 1,000 students.

To join the university, applicants only have to present a document confirming their refugee status or a certificate stating that they have started applying for it.

Staffed by volunteers, Kiron has already received more than €146,000 in donations in less than a month which will cover 122 scholarships.

The money will be used to provide student support, hardware, internet access and software and fees for library access and databases.

A three-year programme has been designed with help from internationally recognised institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale in the United States, which already offer accredited online degree courses.

In the first year students can explore online courses, take German and English classes or begin their university studies.

In year two, they can choose from five programmes focused around business, engineering, architecture, computer science or intercultural studies which will accumulate credits towards a degree.

Although these courses are currently only available in English, Kiron hopes it can expand its offering into other languages such as Arabic and French.

In their third year, students will be able transfer to one of Kiron's partner universities, which will recognise their credits and give them the chance to finish their studies on campus.

At that stage students will need to provide all the required documents to receive their certificates.

Kiron co-founder Odai Al Hashmi says the university is trying to solve the problem of education for people who have been uprooted from their homes.

"A lack of resources, legal documents and language skills all combine to make it very hard for refugees to get back into education," he said.

E&T magazine previously covered immigration and engineering in its March 2015 issue.

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