Speaking on the second day of TNW’s 2018 conference, Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun lived up to her title of provocateur by proposing a radical idea: higher education should be free for all, and the fact that it isn’t is having a negative impact on culture as a whole by stifling innovation and diversity.
When speaking about potential solutions to this problem, Dr. Ben Hayoun said:
How can we support a new diversity? How can we have better gender representation on a leadership level? I’ve been told we need to start diversifying education with K-12. Young kids, for sure. But you also have to do it on the back end.
Dr. Ben Hayoun’s own University of the Underground is tuition-free, with the students’ tuition being covered by a non-profit. The model it aims to create would theoretically diversify knowledge and opportunities by relieving potential students of the burden of searching solely for a career track guaranteed to alleviate their debts.
One of the ways the University aims to cut down on costs is in its name — literally underground, it’s built entirely to occupy unused spaces, with a library and sound studio being built under a night club.
For those who inspired to donate to the cause, Dr. Ben Hayoun is similarly firm:
It’s time to give back. It’s not about donating to a cause for a year or two. It’s about donating for 100 years.
According to Dr. Ben Hayoun, one of the most important things the University of the Underground provides is proof there isn’t just “one type of model” for higher education and that it can be made available to everyone, everywhere without them having to go into debt.