Minerva Schools at KGI
The Minerva Schools at KGI (also referred to as Minerva Schools or simply Minerva) is a non-profit, four-year undergraduate programme.
Minerva’s founder has referred to it as "the first elite American university to be launched in a century."
The target market is claimed to be "the developing world's rising middle class who aims for an elite American education".
Minerva Schools at KGI - mini-study
This is based on a visit by Paul Bacsich in June 2015. A brief update will now be required.
Minerva Schools (https://www.minerva.kgi.edu) is a new-generation elite HE provider based in San Francisco. Some aspects are similar to the "eOxbridge" model presented by Paul Bacsich in a 2012 report from UNESCO IITE on Alternative Models of Education Delivery (http://iite.unesco.org/pics/publications/en/files/3214709.pdf).
The visit was organised by Minerva’s European Director. With a colleague from Ireland, Paul visited Ben Nelson, the CEO and Founder, in his downtown office.
The CEO described the essentials of the proposition as a four-year programme focussing on knowledge, not facts, and ending up pretty much at Masters level.
The programme is cohort-based, using IT to support a seminar programme for 15-20 students where the instructor may be remote from the student cohort but is facilitated by the tools to feel close to the students and manage, monitor, or indeed micro-manage, their interactions. The students are assumed to have much of the required background factual knowledge, or to rapidly acquire it via the piles of resources "out there" like Khan Academy, to bridge the gap between even a good US high school graduate and the entry behaviour expected.
It could be called a "flipped programme", not just a "flipped classroom", but unlike other models (competency-based, individualised, etc) the teaching hours aspect is still pretty standard, so the programme can be mapped into the “seat time” beloved of US administrators and regulators.
The student cohort moves base city each semester, after the first two semesters in San Francisco. So far, the programme is in fact in Year 1. Next year, a new cohort will start in their Year 1, and the existing cohort will be "parked" for a year, then both cohorts jointly go into Year 2. Whether this delay is for financial or pedagogic reasons is not clear – but it further slows down payback.
The software used was proprietary but there was not time to see any demonstrations.
The CEO stressed that in this kind of start-up you need an investor with deep pockets, as getting to scale will take years. He was envisaging perhaps 10 years to the cash-out point, but pointed out that the so-called norm of "3-5 years to IPO" was rarely adhered to. The CEO knows about such matters.