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George Soros, the Hungarian American investor and philanthropist, on Thursday announced the creation of a $1 billion global network that seeks to "transform" higher education.

"The Open Society University Network is a new model of global higher education," the Open Society Foundations, a grant-making group founded by Soros, said in a news release. "It will integrate learning and knowledge creation across geographic and demographic boundaries, promote civic engagement to advance open societies and expand access of underserved communities to higher education."

Soros said the network will seek to integrate teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide. It plans to offer simultaneously taught network courses and joint degree programs, both online and in person.

The network will focus on neglected populations, including refugees, incarcerated people, Roma and other displaced groups.

Bard College and the Central European University, which Soros founded, will be the primary partners of the new network. Other partners include Arizona State University, the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan and BRAC University in Bangladesh.