An Israeli entrepreneur with decades of experience in international education plans to start a global, tuition-free internet university, a nonprofit venture he has named the University of the People, reports the New York Times. "The idea is to take social networking and apply it to academia," said the entrepreneur, Shai Reshef, founder of several internet-based educational businesses. "The open-source courseware is there, from universities that have put their courses online, available to the public, free," Reshef said. "We know that online peer-to-peer teaching works. Putting it all together, we can make a free university for students all over the world, anyone who speaks English and has an internet connection." The University of the People, like other internet-based universities, would have online study communities, weekly discussion topics, homework assignments, and exams. But in lieu of tuition, students would pay only nominal fees for enrollment ($15 to $50) and exams ($10 to $100), with students from poorer countries paying the lower fees and those from richer countries paying the higher ones. Experts in online education say the idea raises many questions. "We’ve chatted about doing something like this over the last decade but decided the time wasn’t yet right," said John Bourne, executive director of the Sloan Consortium. "It’s true that the open courseware movement is pretty robust, so there are a lot of high-quality course materials out there, but there’s no human backup behind them. I’d be interested to know how you’d find and train faculty and ensure quality without tuition money." Other educators question the logistics of such a plan…

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