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HP Pledges $200K to UoPeople Scholarship

Hewlett-Packard became the first corporation to get involved in the open education movement with the University of the People (UoPeople), pledging $200,000 to sponsor 100 women to acquire an associates degree.

Named the UoPeople Women Scholarship Fund, President Shai Reshef announced the news at the DLDWomen12 conference in Munich, Germany. The DLDWomen12 conference explores the question of how digitalization is changing lives and the lives of women in particular.

“We want the UoPeople Women Scholarship Fund to be a DLD project for this year,” Steffi Czerny, DLDWomen Founder said in a news release. “We hope to get DLD corporate partners to commit to educating at least 1,000 women, and are very pleased to have HP kick-start it all off for the first 100 women.” With a donation, HP is funding 100 female students in 2012 and 2013 to pursue the program of their choice.

University of the People is a tuition-free online school dedicated to opening access to higher education worldwide. Offering four undergraduate degrees (associates and bachelor’s degrees in computer science and associates and bachelor’s degrees in business administration), the school is working on a master’s curriculum, but does not have an official offering yet.

To meet application requirements, the applicants need to be over the age of 18, be able to demonstrate secondary school/high school completion with the presentation of a certified diploma and a transcript, and be proficient in the English language. While the program is tuition free, there are fees. There is a non-refundable application fee which ranges between $10-$50, and is determined by the applicant’s residency.

The University of the People is not an accredited institution at this time, but in late June, UoPeople received a $500,000 award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help with the costs of filing for accreditation. The university is in the process of applying for accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The university has accepted more than 1,400 students from 130 countries. Approximately 56% of its students are enrolled in the business administration program, and 44% are studying in the computer science program. Students range from ages 18 to 72, with an average age of 32.

According to Reshef, 20% of the UoPeople’s students are female.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, where many of our students come from, only 10% of UoPeople’s students from this region are women,” said Reshef in a release. “This is shameful, and we want to change this ratio. Between HP and the other corporations we are sure will jump on board, as well as donations to our site, we believe we can rebalance this inequality.”

“HP has a longstanding commitment to global citizenship, education, and gender equality,” said Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president of Sustainability and Social Innovation for HP. “We are supporting UoPeople in their most critical mission to change the lives of many women through education and technology. This decision supports our goal to transform teaching and learning through innovation and technology and to help the women around the world to advance professionally.”

To donate to educating women around the globe via the UoPeople Women Scholarship fund, visit: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/WomenCampaign.

–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets

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