German university offers free education for refugees

writing on a notepad2015 has seen an unprecedented number of refugees flee their homes. There are now nearly 60 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, the highest level ever recorded.

Almost half of these refugees are under 18. Many of them are forced to leave their country without completing high school or university. Without an education, many refugees will find it difficult to secure employment in their new home.

A university in Germany is aiming to tackle this by offering free, online university courses exclusively for refugees.

Kiron University, based in Berlin, launched last month with an initial intake of 1,000 students.

They partner with online course providers such as Coursera and edX to offer online courses from renowned universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

The first two years of the courses will be completed online. In their third year, students have the opportunity to finish their studies on-campus at one of Kiron’s partner universities in Europe and Africa. Once they graduate, they will be recognised with an internationally-accredited degree.

The university also produces its own learning materials and language classes to support students.

Markus Kressler, co-founder of Kiron, told CNN the initiative originated from conversations he had with Syrians refugees he met in Turkey.

“They were clearly a good class of people, who wanted to learn and contribute to society,” he said.

“One big barrier for displaced people is that they cannot enrol in normal universities because they do not have access to the proper paperwork. Another barrier is high fees.

“We developed Kiron to be the ideal university for refugees, so, we removed both of these barriers. The other thing we do is to make sure that all our courses are accessible online, so students can continue their courses wherever they end up.”

Kiron currently offers degrees in computer science, engineering, business and architecture —areas with a skills shortage in Germany. With the knowledge acquired from their degrees, the refugees can contribute back to their host country.

Kiron plans to offer on-campus classes in the future to complement their online programs. It recently secured a campus in Berlin which has 20 seminar rooms and can house more than 500 students.

It costs approximately 400€ to pay for one student. The university has so far relied on private donations and money generated through its crowdfunding campaign to provide education for its students.

If you would like to help a refugee receive a world-class university education, you can donate to Kiron’s crowdfunding campaign here.


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