Shai Reshef's powerful speech on higher education at TED convention

EVANS KANINI By EVANS KANINI, 1st Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Prominent Israeli entrepreneur moves thousands with his noble vision on high education at his University of the People (UoPeople), which he founded in 2009 for the benefit of mankind globally. UoPeople is a tuition-free, non-profit, degree-granting and accredited online institution of higher education headquartered in Pasadena, California, in the US.


Top Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef, who is leading the online education revolution globally, made a powerful, moving and passionate speech during the recent TED convention attended by thousands of attentive guests, as he outlined the model of the affordable higher education he had unveiled at his University of the People (UoPeople).

Shai Reshef was widely applauded by the guests, as he talked candidly on the educational strides achieved at UoPeople for the benefit of students anywhere, higher education being a basic right and which the university was committed in enhancing globally, and made possible by the amazing power of the internet.

Link to Shai Reshef's TED speech

Shai Reshef's TED speech can be accessed at:

In his opening remarks, he stated:

"I would like to share with you a new model of higher education, a model that once expended can enhance the collective intelligence of millions of creative and motivated individuals, who otherwise would be left behind".

The top Israeli businessman founded UoPeople in 2009.

During the TED convention Shai Reshef reiterated that UoPeople is now officially accredited.

Held annually on the West Coast of North America, the TED Conference is at the heart of TED.

More than a thousand people attend this five-day conference about Technology, Entertainment and Design as well as science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world.

More than 70 speakers appear on the main stage to give 18-minute talks and shorter presentations, including music, performance and comedy.


At the online University of the People, anyone with a high school diploma can take classes toward a degree in business administration or computer science— without standard tuition fees (though exams cost money at very affordable rates).

Founder Shai Reshef was cheered as he stated that higher education is changing "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all", and which had been realized at UoPeople whose link is:

"If the internet had made the world a global village, then the model of higher education can develop its future leaders", the creative educational entrepreneur averred.

He maintained that this could be enhanced by the courses UoPeople was offering to students anywhere in the world.

Shai Reshed asserted that his university had created an alternative by opening gates to higher education which was affordable to every qualified student, irrespective of their background.

He gave a graphic illustration of how countless students had made their dreams, which appeared shattered initially, come true after they joined UoPeople.

Shai Reshef cited classic examples of Patrick from Liberia, Debbie from the US and Wael from Syria- all of whom never gave up dreams for higher education, despite the sorry situations they had encountered earlier in life.

Shai Reshef explained that Patrick, Debbie and Wael's cases were just a representative fraction of the 1,700 students enjoying the tuition-free education at the university of the people from 143 countries.

Shai Reshef averred that one of the reasons why he created an alternative for higher education stemmed from the sad declaration by UNESCO that in 2025, 100 million students will be deprived of higher education as there will not be adequate seats to accommodate them.


Other factors which made the entrepreneur start UoPeople arose from the fact that universities were expensive, turning higher education to a privilege of a few; countless women in Africa were also being prevented from achieving higher education, owing to cultural barriers.

Shai Reshef is smart.

He is all set out to democratize higher education, and in only five years, UoPeople has attained many significant milestones, the biggest one being the achievement of its accreditation.

At University of the People, Shai Reshef runs a tuition-free online school that offers tuition-free college-level studies to students across the globe, offering bachelor's and associate's degrees in two specialized areas where the jobs are: computer science and business administration.

It is for this reason that he hopes the model of higher education can develop its future leaders as he emphatically stated during his moving address at the TED convention.

The university, which is partnered with New York University and accredited by DETC, has admitted several thousand students from 147 countries.

Game changer

In 2010, the Huffington Post named Shai Reshef the "Ultimate Game Changer in education", while WIRED included him in its list of the 50 people who will change the world.

In 2009, Fast Company named him one of the most successful people in business.

In 2012, Shai Reshef was named one of the "50 People Changing the World" by Wired Magazine's Smart List 2012.

In the same year, he was named as a "Top Global Thinker" by Foreign Policy Magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers 2012

Before founding University of the People, Reshef directed KIT learning, the first online university in Europe.


By offering a tuition-free university education in business or computers, Shai Reshef hopes to transform disadvantaged communities into vital assets.

From the look of things, the sky is the limit for Shai Reshef in the pursuit of his noble goals for the benefit of the current generation and posterity.


Education, Education System, Educational Ideas, Educational Technology

Meet the author

author avatar EVANS KANINI
Kenyan journalist writing on issues of education, health, environment, agriculture, water, democracy, human rights and governance.

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