Kiron Open Higher Education – “Sie ändern alles”

It has been a pleasure to meet Florian Rampelt (image) and Dr. Renata Suter from Kiron at Saarbrücken University on the occasion of the National IT Summit when I was visiting the Digital Education Day with Noura Shekany (image) from Damascus.
Kiron Open Higher Education has been launched in 2015 in Berlin by Markus Kreßler and Vicent Zimmer as a Higher Education NGO with the vision to provide free access to academic education for refugees worldwide. Less than 1% of refugees globally have currently access to higher education.
Kiron bundles Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from Coursera and other MOOC suppliers and builds them up to a curriculum that is already recognized by Partner Universities in Germany, France, Turkey and Jordan.
(Coursera has been founded by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University in 2012 as a platform for online courses from renowned partner universities. While assisting to a course is free, students need to pay a certain amount if they want to receive a certification. Daphne Koller explains the vision of Coursera in her Ted speech in 2012.)
Kiron’s approach is to make use of this and other existing offers, guarantee to refugees recognition of approved courses in dedicated universities once students meet the requirements to enroll for regular studies at university, pay certification fees and complement online courses with other online and offline services such as the “Buddy Programme”, “Mentoring Programme”, “Study Hubs” (physical rooms to meet and study) and further Career Services.
You may call it a disruption of the traditional “business model” of universities insofar as it undermines the prerequisites for admission: If refugees’ careers can be accelerated this way, it would be logical to make use of this program to attract migrants – without doubt needed in Germany – and finally, to open it for “normal” residents as well.
German magazine Zeit must have had an idea of this when they titled an article about the organization “Sie ändern alles” (They are changing everything”).
Kiron’s main sponsors are the Schöpflin Stiftung and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research – and hundreds of volunteers supporting refugee students.
Current study tracks cover Business & Economics, Computer Science, Engineering and Social Sciences with 1500 students in total.

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