Bard College, CEU partner to set up Open Society University Network with Soros funding
George Soros has donated $1 billion to the Open Society University Network (OSUN) a global network of universities set up by the Central European University (CEU) and Bard College in New York.
The global university network will operate around the world by integrating teaching and research across higher education institutions across the world.
OSUN will provide the international platform for teaching and learning through its collaboration with the CEU and Bard College which will in turn work with distance learning-focused Arizona State University, and other schools such as American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan and BRAC University in Bangladesh.
The network will offer courses that are delivered simultaneously across the network. It will also host joint degree programmes which will provide an avenue for students and faculty from different countries to collaborate either physically or through online discussions.
OSUN was conceptualised to provide students from all over the world with a tertiary education while championing freedom of expression and diversity of beliefs across nations.
The network aims to improve the accessibility of tertiary education through collaborations with institutions in need of international partners, as well as neglected populations, such as refugees, incarcerated people, and other displaced groups.
OSUN, through its partnerships with international institutions, will collaborate in the “scholars at risk” programme. This scheme will unite the large number of academicians and scholars who are at risk of political persecution under this global network.
Commenting on the launch of this global university network, Soros said, “We are looking for farsighted partner institutions who feel a responsibility for the future of our civilisation, people who are inspired by the goals of OSUN and want to participate in its realisation.”
Soros emphasised on the need for equality in education and academic freedom, “Our best hope lies in access to quality education, specifically an education that reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasising academic freedom.”
Soros added, “OSUN will be unique. It will offer an international platform for teaching and research. In the first phase, it will connect closer together with an existing network. In the second phase, we shall open up this network to other institutions who want to join and are eager and qualified to do so.”
He added that to demonstrate the commitment to OSUN, his philanthropic foundation is contributing one billion dollars to it. He adds that while his foundation will not be able to build a global network on their own, it will be made possible through collaboration with partner institutions and supporters from all around the world joining in this enterprise.
Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, has been elected as the chancellor of OSUN. Botstein said that OSUN is one of the most revolutionary initiatives in higher education. He believes that this network will produce robust collaboration for innovation, research as well as scholarship opportunities on an international scale.