An anonymous reader writes: The San Francisco-based founder of PayPal and co-founder of Facebook is offering two-year fellowships of up to $100,000 (£63,800) to 20 entrepreneurs or teams of entrepreneurs aged under 20 in a worldwide competition that closes this week.
With the money, the recipients are expected to drop out of university — Thiel calls it "stopping out" — and work full time on their ideas.
"Some of the world's most transformational technologies were created by people who stopped out of school because they had ideas that couldn't wait until graduation," Thiel says. "This fellowship will encourage the most brilliant and promising young people not to wait on their ideas either."
Thiel says the huge cost of higher education, and the resulting burden of debt, makes students less willing to take risks. "And we think you're going to have to take a lot of risks to build the next generation of companies."
But his plan also clearly challenges the ability of conventional universities to foster innovation. "I do think there are a lot of things people learn in school," Thiel says wryly. "I don't think they learn anything much about entrepreneurship."