The Alternative University is a platform for seeding freedom-centred learning and work in Romania, focusing on developing autonomy in learning, learning communities, professional skills and impactful projects with students.
The Alternative University was founded in 2008 by five students from Politehnica University of Bucharest who, frustrated with the education system, decided to create a university centred around an autonomous learning experience for students who wanted to make an impact in the world. At the heart of this educational model is the needs of the student. Unlike traditional universities, students can choose and propose what and how they learn. At The Alternative University, students elect modules to study along a four-stage development route: Self-knowledge, Active exploration, Projects, and Transition. Recognising that most students come from traditional schools where self-directed learning is not the norm, The Alternative University has designed ways to support students in exercising this new independence and authority. As the university evolved, students have established learning communities which support and inspire individuals interested in particular topics. Students develop skills through courses, workshops and training, mentoring and various other forms of learning. Instead of full-time lecturers, they learn from invited experts and entrepreneurs, and of course from each other. In addition to the skills developed, students also participate in the brilliant Rent-a-Team initiative. The university partners with organisations to bridge the gap between companies with a skills or resources gap and students who want hands-on project work experience. Students are also encouraged to start businesses and NGOs as part of their studies.