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Bringing Free Online Education to the World

Martijn van de Veen is General Manager for the International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The power and growth of e-learning cannot be underestimated. In the U.S. alone, distance learning is a growing trend with over 6 million students enrolled in online education, almost a third of total higher education enrolments in the U.S. And with the rising cost of tuition fees and everyday living expenses, aspiring to a higher education is increasingly becoming an elite privilege.

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) Association aims to support the access to education for all who desire it. It is why in 2011 we established the annual ISIC Award, to recognize organizations that seek to break down barriers to education and increase access to education. Since the Award was created, together with MasterCard Worldwide we have been able to provide the winning organization with a €20,000 (US$26,500) contribution to support initiatives enabling access to higher education around the world.

This year we are proud to announce that the University of the People (UoPeople) is the 2013 ISIC Award winner. Complimentary to our mission to support intercultural understanding, UoPeople’s approach to learning allows students from 136 countries to take part in peer-to-peer online learning – sharing not only resources but exchanging ideas and unique perspectives in an encouraging learning environment.

University of the People (UoPeople) is the world’s first non-profit, degree-granting, tuition-free online university embracing technology to bring undergraduate degree programs to qualified high school graduates around the world who would otherwise be restricted in their ability to access quality higher education.

UoPeople is changing the very nature of higher education and harnessing technology to open the doors to learning and, in turn, advancing financial inclusion of many underserved youth of the world.

We think there is no better way to learn – what do you think?