U.S. launch offers free online university courses to refugees

by Sebastien Malo | @SebastienMalo | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 16:38 GMT

A migrant studies at an immigration centre in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, Italy April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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(Replaces with Stanford University instead of Harvard in second paragraph)

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, June 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Refugees worldwide will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free as part of an effort to provide education and skills training under a U.S.-based program launched on Monday as part of World Refugee Day.

The initiative provides access to courses at such schools as Stanford University in the United States and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in topics from computer coding to neuroscience, said Coursera, a for-profit provider of online courses.

Typically, course fees could range from $29 U.S. to $99 U.S., it said.

The program, launched jointly with the U.S. Department of State, will allow nonprofit organizations to apply for financial aid for refugees to take courses for free.

Globally, a record 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of last year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Coursera for Refugees is designed to provide as many of them as possible with greater access to education in career relevant skills, as they navigate new homes and difficult times in their lives," said Rebecca Taber, Coursera's head of government partnerships, in a statement.

The State Department will promote the courses through embassies and consulates.

"Coursera for Refugees builds on our work to help people succeed in the global economy," said Evan Ryan, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, in a statement.

Berlin-based Kiron University also provides online courses and degrees without fees to refugees, according to its website. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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