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Shai Reshef

Shai Reshef is a con man

Shai Reshef is an Israeli for-profit educational entrepreneur who invented a virtual "University of the People" and, using a hidden PO box in California, claims it to be an American university. After having trouble with the Israeli education system and after selling his old for-profit school to Kaplan, he now uses a different business model, claiming UoPeople.edu to be "tuition free" while people must pay "administrative fees" up to several thousand dollars. It is as if a politician eliminated the taxes by calling them "fees": true, you are not paying the taxes anymore, but you are now paying the "fees". This commercial gimmick, which includes extensive use of misleading online advertising, as well as massive spam campaigns and press releases, allows Reshef to introduce himself as a philanthropist and a visionary, usually in sponsored articles. It is still unclear how a WordPress website devoid of real faculty, or a real address, or a real phone number or many more essential features, could be considered a "university", but we acknowledge that this online gig brings Reshef a lot of money, and more importantly, avoids the taxes thanks to its "nonprofit" status in the US — but not in Israel, where it is actually located, thus misleading customers from Palestine too. Basically, Reshef's net worth is entirely made up of UoPeople's revenues. As for the accreditation, it is not a problem because Reshef accredited his own website in the blink of an eye.

UoPeople.edu states that Shai Reshef is "an expert on the intersection of education and technology", although he never studied education or technology. Anyway, his concept of "education" is an offshore diploma mill that has no faculty, teachers or professors, and his concept of technology is an amateur WordPress template that anyone can buy online for 10 dollars.

In the same page (uopeople.edu/about/leadership-/administration-/mr-shai-reshef/), Shai Reshef uploaded a picture claiming that "Pope Francis praises University of the People". However, the picture only shows the Pope shaking hands with Reshef, which is what happens whenever any person comes up to the Pope and asks him to shake hands, for example after a Papal audience or a Mass. Claiming that the picture shows Pope Francis "praising University of the People" is just ridiculous, because the Pope has no idea what University of the People is and the official Vatican network (vatican.va) never mentions Shai Reshef or the University of the People. On the other hand, Reshef is no stranger to exploiting questionable pictures: he uploaded a picture on Wikipedia where he appears next to an alleged "professor" at UoPeople.edu, who has actually never taught at UoPeople.edu let alone logged on to the website. Is this misleading advertising? Yes, but there is more: the picture is also a photo montage, and the background is a free wallpaper available online. That being said, who knows whether the picture with the Pope is genuine.

In a TED Talk that has been heavily advertised on YouTube, Reshef claims that "The university is partnered with Yale Law School for research and NYU and University of California Berkeley to accept top students." However, this is not true, as we saw in our previous article. This long misleading commercial, disguised as a TED Talk, is still shown on YouTube.

Do you want to email Shai Reshef? Unfortunately, Reshef's email address is fake, because the people who actually respond are underpaid online workers located in Africa or Asia.

All in all, we congratulate Mr. Reshef on eliminating the poverty in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America as well as on building many necessary schools for the poor, just like a philanthropist, where children and young people don't have Internet access and desperately need to go to a real school instead of being sent to work in the mines. Shai Reshef resolved all their problems. Congratulations again.

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