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US Offers Free Online University Courses to Refugees

FILE - People are led on a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Refugees worldwide will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free.

Refugees worldwide will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free as part of an effort to provide education and skills training under a U.S.-based program launched Monday as part of World Refugee Day.

The initiative provides access to courses at such schools as Harvard University in the United States and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in topics from computer coding to neuroscience, said Coursera, a for-profit provider of online courses.

Typically, course fees could range from $29 U.S. to $99 U.S., it said.

The program, launched jointly with the U.S. Department of State, will allow nonprofit organizations to apply for financial aid for refugees to take courses for free.

Globally, a record 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of last year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Coursera for Refugees is designed to provide as many of them as possible with greater access to education in career relevant skills, as they navigate new homes and difficult times in their lives," said Rebecca Taber, Coursera's head of government partnerships, in a statement.

The State Department will promote the courses through embassies and consulates.

"Coursera for Refugees builds on our work to help people succeed in the global economy," said Evan Ryan, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, in a statement.

Berlin-based Kiron University also provides online courses and degrees without fees to refugees, according to its website.