Sixty-five percent of the public supports the recent government decision to recognize Ariel University as the nation’s eighth university, according to a Geocartography survey released on Thursday.

Only 15% categorically oppose the initiative.

The survey, which sampled 500 respondents aged 18 or older, showed that 76% of the public believes that other universities in Israel oppose Ariel’s new status because of irrelevant considerations: 42% of them said it was for political reasons, 27% attributed it to economic interests and 7% believe that the “club” of universities simply does not want to accept additional members.

More than half of the people surveyed agreed with the statement that presidents of universities in Israel oppose the recognition of Ariel University because they wish to remain a small and elitist group.

Only 14% of the respondents think that the universities’ opposition is related to concerns for students and the level of teaching in Israeli higher education.

As to Ariel’s location in Samaria, while only 30% think that there is no connection between the fact that the university is located across the Green Line and the opposition to its recognition, close to two-thirds of the public believes that if Ariel University was located within the Green Line, it would not have faced so many difficulties in the process of its recognition.

In addition, the data showed that 69% of Israelis agree that the establishment of new universities will allow more people from weak socioeconomic backgrounds to access higher education.

The same proportion of people agreed that the establishment of more universities strengthens the country in terms of research and academia, and 57% agreed that new universities in Israel can help solve the brain drain problem.

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