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Hank Green is making higher education accessible to everyone

Words by Abi Scaife

For many people around the world, one of the biggest barriers to higher education is cost: the cost of the course, the cost of accommodation, the cost of not being able to work full-time while they learn. It all adds up, making the process of engaging in higher education a difficult one.

To help combat this, the creators of Crash Course, Hank and John Green, have partnered with Arizona State University and YouTube to set up Study Hall. The idea of Study Hall is to make University more accessible to those who, for whatever reason, will struggle to attend - and, as usual, the internet is the answer.

“The thesis that we've always had is we can't eliminate these barriers, but there are ways to bring them lower,” Hank tells Smiley News. “I'd love to eliminate them - and various countries have figured out how to do that legislatively, but we can't at the moment. Where we are right now, how do we do what we can with what we have?”

Hank Green by Rio Chantel.

Whether you’re unwell, or you can’t afford University - or even if you just don’t want to go into debt - Study Hall is an initiative designed to help you get your degree. Put simply, it's a pathway to college credit.

So how does it work? Study Hall gives access to four YouTube courses that cover subjects typically taken during early college years – for free. Students can then take Arizona State online classes with coursework for just $25.

After that, students don’t need to pay anything else until they want the academic credit, which will cost $400 … and that’s it. No hidden costs, no surprise charges, and no need to relocate. The credit can be transferred to any institution that accepts Arizona State credits.

“We started to think ‘what's the goal? … why are we doing this?’ and the goal was to make the educational process easier for teachers and students – but especially students,” explains Hank.

A huge benefit of learning through Study Hall is that it eliminates some of the risks associated with enrolling in university. Many people across the USA, and indeed the world, have paid large amounts of money to colleges and universities without a degree to show for it.

One of the reasons Hank chose to partner with Arizona State University is because of the college’s own thoughts on the education system. Not only have they partnered with Starbucks to help baristas get degrees without going into debt, ASU has also taken a new stance on education - to be “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed".

Whatever reason someone might have for not completing their degree, Study Hall doesn’t have the same financial pitfalls. If you don’t complete your studies, you’re only out the $25 enrolment fee. By removing this financial barrier, and taking away the anxiety that comes with it, Study Hall gives people the opportunity to further their education - no matter who they are.

“Broadly, from the story of human history, things get better when people know more,” Hank tells Smiley News, when asked why he has dedicated so much of his career to education. “Societies are more equitable. Women, in particular, get to have more agency over their lives. That transition happened when we started to do primary and secondary education for free.”

With his education initiative, Hank wanted to make sure there were no interviews, no entrance exams, no risk of being rejected. He wanted to make education accessible for everyone - and he really does mean everyone.

“Ultimately … we're in the middle of the story of humanity. I don't know where it goes, but it can't get worse if people know more,” says Hank. “It feels right to give people the opportunity to contribute more to their societies, to contribute more to their families and their communities and to be able to engage on their own behalf more."

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Quality Education and Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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