Knesset advances bill to raise university tuition for int’l students

The bill is designed to give international students better facilities.

By
July 5, 2017 18:50
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)

The Knesset plenum passed a bill on Wednesday 32-0 that proposes allowing universities and colleges subsidized by the state to raise their annual tuition by up to 25% for international students.

Currently, the tuition for international students for bachelor’s programs is equivalent to the subsidized tuition of an Israeli citizen. The bill is an amendment to the Students Law (1958) and seeks to authorize the Committee for Higher Education to set higher tuitions for international students.

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The bill would not apply to extra-budgetary programs, such as graduate and exchange programs, which are already budgeted independently by the academic institutions.

MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu), who co-sponsors the bill alongside her faction colleague MK Roy Folkman and MK Ya’acov Margi (Shas), told The Jerusalem Post that the motivation behind the bill is to use the additional tuition income to improve the quality of education for international students.

“By doing so, they [the state-subsidized schools] could develop better teaching and accommodation infrastructures,” said Ben-Ari. “As of now, they [international students] are not even being offered classes in English... Those who speak Hebrew are lucky.”

Ben-Ari explained that the current situation does not incentivize state-subsidized universities and colleges to attract more international students, despite a five-year plan by the Committee for Higher Education to do so.

“With such low tuition, they [the state-subsidized schools] have no motivation to attract international students,” she said. “If they could raise the tuition, they could bring English-speaking professors, build better infrastructure.

“This is why, in the current situation, international students prefer to go to a non-subsidized institute and pay more; they get higher quality education,” she added.

Ben-Ari stressed that the measure is also in Israel’s interest.

“Due to many higher education collaboration agreements that have been signed in recent years, there is no reason to keep subsidizing foreign students at the expense of Israeli students,” she said. “Not only that, they are also taking the place of Israeli students in departments that have a limited number of students.”

The bill, which has passed only its initial hurdle, does not specify how the proposed change will take place. Ben-Ari suggested in the explanatory notes of the bill that the resolutions of the 1996 committee headed by former Supreme Court justice Yaakov Maltz, be adopted to raise the tuition by up to 25% for non citizens or nonresidents of Israel.

“It is a minor raise for the students – something around NIS 2,500 – but it could help the academic institutions to give them better facilities,” said Ben-Ari.

The bill will be discussed at the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee before it goes to first reading in the plenum.

The bill, which has passed only its initial hurdle, does not specify how the proposed change will take place. Ben-Ari suggested in the explanatory notes of the bill that the resolutions of the 1996 committee headed by former Supreme Court justice Yaakov Maltz, be adopted to raise the tuition by up to 25% for non-citizens or non-residents of Israel.

“It is a minor raise for the students – something around NIS 2,500 – but it could help the academic institutions to give them better facilities,” said Ben-Ari.

The bill will be discussed at the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee before it goes to first reading in the plenum.


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