No need of university education for those with a passion

 

$100,000 ‘not to go to university’

Last updated 10/05/2013 14:59 GMT+01:00

By Jim Reed

Newsbeat politics reporter

Andrew Brackin

Andrew Brackin is the second British winner of the Thiel Fellowship

Eighteen-year-old Andrew Brackin has just been given the offer of a life time.

He’s been handed $100,000 (£67,000) to go and live in San Francisco and work on his own tech idea.

The teenager from London is one of 20 young business people now being sponsored by Peter Thiel, the co-creator of PayPal and one of the first people to put money into Facebook.

But the offer comes with a catch.

Andrew must agree to skip university and avoid any formal studying for at least two years.

‘Apprentice on steroids’

“It was essentially the Apprentice on steroids,” said Andrew after he was selected out of thousands of applicants from across the United States and 48 other countries.

“I got through the semi-finals where there was a Skype call and interviews and then the finals where they flew us out to California and we had to present our ideas on stage in front of all these important people from Silicon Valley.”

All finalists had to make their presentation without written notes before an audience at the Yerba Buena Centre in San Francisco where Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad.

Andrew plans to use the cash to develop Bunchy, an online platform that lets charities and other organisations raise money from their audience on social networks and websites.

‘Other options’

He is only the second British winner of the Thiel Fellowship, set up by Peter Thiel to pay for 20 teenagers each year to stop studying and try to set up a business instead.

The billionaire has been famously critical of university education in the past dismissing it as a waste of time and money for some students.

His foundation’s 20-under-20 programme pays each winner $100,000 over two years, which can be used for living expenses and business costs.

The teenagers selected also get help from Thiel and other top business people in Silicon Valley, the area of California around San Francisco which is home to companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo!

“I feel that many people go to university without really thinking about what they want to do,” said Andrew, who went to the state-run Brit School in south London where singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele once studied.

“There are other options for people who know what they want and don’t necessarily need a degree to get there.”

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BBC © 2013
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