For refugees, it can often take years before they can study again, putting their talents on hold, for, they don’t have the required documents to enter educational institutions. As Markus Kressler found this totally unnecessary, he created a solution. Kiron University is a free-of-charge online university for refugees and asylum seekers that find themselves in this situation. Now still an online platform, Kiron aims to open its Berlin campus next year and launch its online program soon.
Founded by Vincent Zimmer and Markus Kressler, Kiron University is based on the idea that “every individual on earth is capable of doing good for society when given the opportunity and the adequate tools to do so”. For, they believe that “the asylum seekers of today will be the achievers of tomorrow”. Where some regular universities have allowed refugees to attend courses for free, Kiron is the first university to actually provide an institutional degree without legal documentation as prerequisite.
Where governments see legal issues, Kiron University has easily solved the problem of access to education without documents. When refugees have no access to their legal documents or when they simply don’t have any, they can print a temporary identity on the website. Furthermore, Kiron does not check prior school certificates usually needed to enter university, but helps its students to reach the level of entrance requirements of regular universities where they go in their third year. Also, the university can take in any amount of students as they don’t have to deal with quotas for foreign students tied to the number of seats.
“The asylum seekers of today will be the achievers of tomorrow”.
Because the first two years can be completed online, courses are accessible to anyone with a computer and Internet. Students have all the time they need to finish their first year (60 ECTs), as some of them also finish their high school or learn a language. Considering that the students are refugees, the university also offers preparation courses for university, language courses, psychological counseling, and life coaching in order to get the students where they want to be. In the second year, a student can choose one of the six majors offered. In their last year, students can study at the Berlin campus or at other varied universities such as the University of Rostock or the Open University of West Africa.
However, they do need money, so they have started a crowd funding campaign, collecting over 30,000 Euros so far. The aim is 1,2 million. Over 15,000 have already applied for the first year in October, of which many come from Syria. Kiron will start with 1,000 students, but its model holds the possibility to host 100 more after the “educational policy experiment”.