National Dream University to Serve Undocumented Students

The UCLA Center for Labor Research has partnered with National Labor College to set up an online college catering exclusively to illegal immigrants living in the U.S. According to Los Angeles Weekly, the school, named National Dream University, is meant to serve those students who fall under the auspices of the Dream Act: lacking documents, yet who qualify for in-state tuition and are ligible to apply for government financial aid.

California has been at the forefront of legislation dealing with undocumented immigrants who have arrived in America as children and completed secondary education in the country. Now, the National Dream University is also going to open its virtual doors to similarly situated illegal immigrants from out of state. The application window for those who are interested in enrolling will remain open until October 5th, with the first batch of decisions, to number between 30 and 35, to be sent out by the middle of November.

Kent Wong, who is the director of UCLA's Labor College and one of the driving forces behind NDU, says that the organizers decided on the online-only format to allow students maximum scheduling flexibility while working towards their degree. Wong believes that because of their immigration status, students will face difficulties that are atypical for a traditional student.

My undocumented students really struggle to complete their education at UCLA. Many have to take off quarters to work. Many have to work in the underground economy to save money to go to school. Many have to commute two, three hours to go to UCLA. It's not easy for Dream Act students to attend college.

One of the things that prospective students will find appealing is the pricetag: each course credit will cost a paltry $65. And students will be taught by instructors who are themselves in a unique position to understand the challenges facing young undocumented adults in America. Wong is looking to the ranks of undocumented master's and PhD candidates to fill out the teaching roster.

Since National Dream University will be fully accredited, credits earned will be transferable for students who wish to continue their education at another school.

Although classes will take place entirely online and will be accessible anywhere with an internet connection, some travel will be required. Before beginning their studies, students will be required to travel to National Labor College in Maryland for an orientation. In addition, there will be a mandatory residency program to be held on the UCLA campus that will take place at the end of the first quarter.

08 6, 2012
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