This is a version of free gifted education but more focused on university.
This is Ciro Santilli's ideal university system. It is a system that actually lives up to the name "Open University":
So far as of the early 2020's, the university that comes closest to some but not all of these principles is the University of the People. It's sad that it's such a crappy unknown thing, but it is what it is.
Online and free. Pay only for exams, i.e. exam as a service. Almost perfect according to Ciro Santilli's idea.
Video 1. An ultra-low-cost college degree by Shai Reshef (2014) Source.
You just have to spend a few minutes with students until they complain about the courses or teachers. And you just have to spend a few hours with teachers until they complain about the students or broader system.
University is broken, and everyone knows it. The only question now is finding a viable, "political cash flow positive" path, into something better.
Bibliography: The Education System is About to Implode by Nicholas Budny (2020)
Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Oxford are luxury goods in the same sense that a Mercedes-Benz might be, or the latest iPhone. They sell an aesthetic experience that provides the consumer with social status, similar to acquiring expensive clothes or a fancy house.
Video 1. Bar scene from Good Will Hunting. Source. This scene is way way overdone. But:
Hero: You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.
Bad guy: Yeah, but I will have a degree. And you'll be serving my kids fries at a drive-through on our way to a skiing trip.
The image of an university is basically their only real asset, which they extract money out of via undergraduate students in some countries like the USA, and by getting funding.
For this reason, universities will sacrifice basically any principle in order to give themselves a good image.
Although for profit companies also do this, it is simply on another level for universities.
As of 2020s and much earlier, Ciro Santilli believes that undergrad studies were fundamentally broken (considering the Information Age which completely changed what would be possible) because university had only two goals, with the exception of a few enlightened professors:
  • rank students from worse to best so they can get into PhD programs.
    For regular jobs grades didn't even matter as much compared the prestige of your university (and therefore, university entry exam grades) and your ability to stand the stress of exams to get minimal passing grade.
    In particular, being able to rank requires setting the difficulty level at a point where you can see a Normal distribution in grades, and not have everyone at either 0 nor 100%.
    Also, this split could be caused by either shitty learning materials/conditions, or by mere volume. It doesn't matter.
  • get money from the students. Of course, in countries where university is "free", this means reporting how many students you had to some government office so they can give you a corresponding budget. But you still have an incentive to enroll as many as possible.
As a result, most students, who would not go on to do a PhD essentially do a simple trade: all their time, and possibly some money, in exchange for embuing themselves with the incredible name of a respected institution so they can get better jobs later on.
Beauty, deep understanding, and learning awesome things comes basically as a second thought.
Besides of course sexual selection, considering in this section only "formal learning" activities.
Consider e.g. the 2020 University of Oxford, where many many people are taking courses without any laboratory work (and also without much use at all) like literature and history, and they are paying about 9k pounds/year for it: how much it costs to study at the University of Oxford?.
Basically all of this could be done online from books.
Laboratories are impossible however, because expendables of every experiment you do cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, not to mention crazy upfront equipment costs.
For this reason, the brick and mortar aspect universities should focus exclusively on laboratories, and ensuring that the students with the most relevant knowledge (which can be readily obtained online) get access to those laboratories. Students should of course fully master every aspect of theory pertinent to their experiments. principal investigators should hand pick whichever criteria they want to select their students, possibly based partly on exam as a service if they find it a useful metric.
Furthermore, the use of laboratories should put great focus on novel research. A lot of laboratory instruction could be done from video of an experiments. As much as possible, we should use laboratories for novel research. Related: Section "Videos of all key physics experiments".
You can always learn pure theory later on for free or very cheap from books.
And above all, you can always learn software engineering later on for free, because the programming community is so much more open than any other so far, notably e.g. with Stack Overflow and GitHub, see also: Section "Ciro Santilli's Open Source Enlightenment (2012)". Ciro Santilli is trying to change that with, but don't hold your breath. But it is increasingly hard to understand why there isn't an university that forces teachers to publish all their notes and lecture videos (which should be mandatorily recorded) with a Creative Commons License, and then let anyone take whichever exams they want for a small fee or for free.
Actually, there is a good chance you will learn to program, like it or not, because chances are that you won't be able to find as decent a job doing anything else.
But there is one thing you cannot learn for free: laboratory work. Laboratory work is just too expensive to carry out outside of an institution.
Basically, if you don't do laboratory work in undergrad, you will very likely never be able to do so in your entire life.
Because laboratories are so rare and expensive, it is laboratories that put you in the best most unfair position at creating world changing deep tech startups, which is why when in doubt, choose the course that has the most experimental work. Yes, you won't be able to achieve those insanely concentrated equities of the early-Internet, as you will need more venture capital to run your company, but those days are over now, deal with it.