The National Autonomous University of Mexico, better known as UNAM, has said it will make virtually all of its publications, databases, and course materials freely available on the Internet over the next few years—a move that some academics speculated could push other universities in the region to follow suit.
Campus officials at UNAM, Mexico's largest university, said the program, known as All of UNAM Online, could double or triple the institution's 3.5 million publicly available Web pages, as the largest collection of its kind in Latin America.
They also said it was key to UNAM's social mission as a public institution: providing educational resources to populations usually underrepresented in the university system—really, to anyone who desires access to them.
"As the national university, we must assume a national mission and give back to society what we are doing with its financial support," said Imanol Ordorika, a professor of social sciences and education at UNAM and a key force behind the effort. "That means providing open access and being accountable and transparent."
Mr. Ordorika said the university has set no specific goal as to how many Web pages will be made available or a fixed budget for bringing the endeavor to fruition.
But he said it would include all magazines and periodicals published by UNAM, and, if negotiations with outside publishers went well, all research published by UNAM employees.
He also said the university would provide online access to all theses and dissertations as well as materials for its approximately 300 undergraduate and graduate courses.
Experts from outside Mexico said those two components alone would make the venture a milestone in the region.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology makes 2,000 courses freely available online as part of its OpenCourseWare program. Stanford University plans to offer up to 200 courses as part of a similar effort. But no university in Latin America has tried anything that ambitious.