SAP and University of the People: Educate the Leaders of Tomorrow

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” We couldn’t agree more at SAP and know that education is key to unlocking innovation and opportunity, and to creating sustainable futures for generations.

Therefore, one of our industry-leading Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focus areas is powering equitable access to education and employment, in alignment with SAP’s vision of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.

SAP recognizes the positive ripple effect when all people have equitable access to education. An investment in education — particularly in under-resourced communities — is an investment in future innovation and economic growth. UNESCO estimates that if every child in low-income countries completed secondary school by 2030, income per capita would increase 75% by 2050. Further, according to data from UNICEF, the median value of one additional year of schooling is linked to an 18% increase in GDP per capita. Take a look at the TheKey study done by TheirWorld for even more.

But this isn’t just about SAP or economic growth. This is about connecting willing learners everywhere with competitive and secure job opportunities, ultimately leading to poverty alleviation, higher income potential, and stable living environments for themselves and their families.

UNESCO estimates that by 2025, there will be nearly 100 million learners internationally seeking seats that don’t exist at universities. This is because the traditional higher education system simply does not have the capacity or capability to provide quality academic degree programs accessible to many students at an affordable cost.

Investing in education is about finding solutions for these learners. Solving for the next software solution, poverty, climate change: it all starts with education. That is where we partner up with University of the People.

University of the People is the first nonprofit, tuition-free, American-accredited online university dedicated to global access to higher education. The university was established in 2009 on the belief that higher education is a fundamental right for all. Through virtual learning, the institution supports more than 117,000 high school graduates from 200 countries worldwide in overcoming financial, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from college studies. Its curriculum and course offerings allow students to earn accredited degrees taught by faculty that include scholars from the best universities in the world.

This year is SAP’s 50th anniversary. That’s why we’re celebrating this moment in 2022 and are ready to support young people who seek a brighter future in times of change. To do so, we couldn’t imagine a better partner than the University of the People.

Today, we are excited to announce a new scholarship program for refugees and displaced youth aged between 18 and 30. In total, SAP will fund 50 associate degrees and 50 bachelor’s degrees in computer science or business administration. This demographic has the greatest need for scholarships according to University of the People, with data from UNICEF showing that only three percent of refugees have access to higher education. University of the People currently enrolls more than 10,000 refugees — more than all other U.S. colleges and universities combined.

“Refugees and displaced peoples have the greatest need for educational support right now,” says University of the People President and Founder Shai Reshef. “This partnership with SAP will help to alleviate the financial burden on our students who are seeking support. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spiraling costs of higher education, a growing number of students are flocking to our online education model because it provides flexible, affordable, and equitable opportunities to earn a college degree. We have expanded our enrollment significantly over the past few years with the support of over 29,000 volunteer faculty members and administrators — many of whom are from some of the leading universities around the world.”

This scholarship opportunity for students at University of the People is a small contribution toward alleviating these educational pressures. It will bring us a bit closer to a world with equitable education opportunities and future innovation, especially for those adjusting to the challenges of uprooting their lives in search of a hopeful future. SAP is committed to supporting the leaders of tomorrow, and access to higher education is a significant first step to equip them with the right skills for the future.

Offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional universities, University of the People students pay a one-time application fee and an assessment fee for each course completed toward their degree. They are not charged to enroll or pay for course materials. The scholarships provided will cover the application and degree assessment fees for 100 students seeking higher education.

“After spending more than 30 years in the international education field, I realized that traditional colleges and universities were not meeting the educational needs of millions of people across the globe desperately seeking affordable and accessible higher education,” Reshef says. “That is why I decided to create an entirely new kind of university that would swing the gates of higher education open to help as many people around the world as possible achieve their educational dreams. With SAP as our partner, our worlds align with our shared commitment to education through the means of technology. We are in the midst of unprecedented times, but we know that for these students their educational dreams will become a reality thanks to SAP’s generous support.”

For interested students who meet the scholarship criteria of being a refugee or displaced person aged 18 to 30, applications are now live. Students can apply for cohorts that matriculate in either April 2022 or June 2022, and all virtual classes are taught in English, with the exception of the associate and bachelor’s of business administration degrees, which are also available entirely in Arabic.

For more information, visit the scholarship site on the University of the People website and apply today.


Julia White is chief marketing and solutions officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.

This article first appeared on the SAP News Center.