NATO Science Programme helps start world’s first free university

  • 14 Dec. 2010 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Dec. 2010 17:40

Recording a first in the world of academia, NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme has helped to fund and start the world’s first free university.

In collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, and the World Medical Association the NATO science programme has helped Global Uni ( begin to provide the world’s first free:

  • master degree courses
  • six medical residency training programmes, and
  • 30+ other medicine, public health, nursing and dentistry courses

This provision of high-quality and community-based education is unprecedented and is built on the foundation of Health Sciences Online (HSO), founded in 2001, and fully launched two years ago. The HSO remains the only website to deliver authoritative, comprehensive, free and advertisment-free health sciences knowledge (with over 50,000 hand-selected resources and 8,000 hits per day).

The main targets for this free education are thousands of trainees, mostly in developing countries. It will enable students to remain in their home countries and therefore build capacity as opposed to facilitating what has been termed the ‘brain drain’.

This initiative will use a model of:

  • online training,
  • local hands-on mentoring, and
  • peer-to-peer local or distance feedback

Global Uni is also piloting these training programmes in schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, and speech-language pathology, especially in the Caribbean, China, Colombia, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, and Zambia.

Other 2011 offerings from Global Uni include:

  • Residencies in Ob-Gyn, Women's Health, Pediatrics, and Adolescent health, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, Medical Women's International Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and others;
  • A Master's degree in Public Health;
  • Hospital and Clinic-based Infection Control, in collaboration with WHO;
  • Introduction to General Surgery, with Global Surgery at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Zambia, and the Education Committee of the College of Surgeons in East, Central and Southern Africa (who will authorise these graduates to take surgical boards in 9 sub-Saharan countries);
  • Exercise and Health, in partnership with the U.S. CDC, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Fundacion Santa Fe Bogota;
  • A Pre-Medical Curriculum and training on the Prevention and Cessation of Tobacco Use, both with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations;
  • Prevention and Treatment of Alcohol Abuse, in collaboration with the Betty Ford Institute, and the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addiction Medicine

This initiative, co-funded by the NATO SPS Programme, serves as a unique example of the Alliance’s ability to foster partnership and collaboration on a global scale.
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