The Ariel University Center could appeal to the government to reverse the
Council for Higher Education’s recommendation to deny the institution university
status, should a bill by MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu) pass.
legislation, which Miller proposed this week, would allow Wednesday’s
recommendation by the council’s planning and budgetary committee to be reversed,
in that Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar or AUC itself could appeal the decision.
The government could then discuss the matter and decide whether to recognize the
institution as a university or not.
The bill’s explanatory section states
that the government must authorize the Council for Higher Education’s decisions,
including the authorization or rejection of new universities. As such, Miller, a
resident of Ariel, wrote that the government should be able to reverse the
council’s policies after hearing both sides of the issue.
also founded a Knesset caucus devoted to making AUC a university, called the
recommendation a “first-class scandal,” and accused the Council for Higher
Education of putting politics before academics.
“It is unfortunate that
the council is keeping this significant institution behind a murkily defined
term,” the Yisrael Beytenu MK said, referring to “university center,” and added
that he plans to use every parliamentary tool possible to turn AUC into a
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who heads the caucus with Miller,
said she would expect “professionals with academic integrity to welcome the
college, after it passed all the relevant tests, and not try to keep themselves
in an academic cartel.”
The Likud MK referred to a compromise the council
offered to AUC last week, in which it would remain a “university center” without
requesting an upgrade in status at least until 2015, in exchange for a budget
increase of NIS 320 million over four years. AUC rejected the offer.
tip my hat to AUC,” Hotovely said. “Giving up on millions for the chance to
become a university is a brave and difficult decision.”
“The Council for
Higher Education has adopted norms that are practically bribery, offering a
significant payoff for AUC not to present its legitimate request to be
recognized as a university,” she pointed out.
Knesset Speaker Reuven
Rivlin also mentioned AUC in an interview with Israel Radio, saying that if the
decision not to upgrade the institution to university status comes from
professional reasons, it is valid.
However, “if the heads of the
universities are only trying to protect their guild and their exclusivity, it’s
a serious problem,” Rivlin said.
In addition, the issue should not be
about having a university over “the Green Line, may it rest in peace,” the
Knesset speaker quipped.