The Council for Higher Education plenum on Tuesday rejected a curriculum for an undergraduate degree in law (LL.B.) in a foreign language.
The decision followed a request by the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan for approval to host an English-language LL.B. program that would entail conversion of the existing equivalent Hebrew-language law degree program.
The general plenum said the CHE was convinced that in undergraduate degree law studies the Hebrew language plays a central function, and there is significant difficulty in accurately translating legal concepts to English. Furthermore, in Israel nearly all legal materials are in Hebrew and the legal system is conducted exclusively in the Hebrew language, the CHE said.
The CHE also expressed doubt as to the ability of the school to undertake the “huge and challenging” project of translating all relevant legal material for an English LL.B. degree in Israel.
Despite this, the CHE noted during the general plenum meeting that higher education institutions can apply to offer an English-language curriculum in subjects that address the issues of law and justice, and to incorporate English-language courses on these subjects within the existing Hebrew-language law degree programs.
There are two options for applying for foreign language study programs in Israel, the CHE said.
The first option allows an institution to ask to host a foreign language curriculum that is a direct translation or conversion of the equivalent Hebrew program. In this case, the CHE will examine the program’s identity, admission requirements, faculty and infrastructure.
The second option would entail an institution requesting a program in a foreign language that is not a conversion of an equivalent Hebrew curriculum.
The CHE would examine the application as a request for opening a new program in accordance with the standard procedures of the CHE and its Planning and Budgetary Committee.
At a plenum meeting in May 2013, the CHE adopted the recommendation of its Higher Subcommittee for Authorization, Accreditation and Licensing regarding LL.B. degrees in English.
The committee called for the establishment of a principles committee to examine the feasibility and the criteria for developing an LL.B. degree program in English for higher education institutions throughout the country. In addition, the committee was tasked with examining the adverse effects of an English-language program on its graduates in comparison to students in a similar Hebrew language program.
The principles committee, comprised of five members, was unable to reach a definitive conclusion, and the decision was deferred to the CHE plenum for a final vote.
“We demand that the education minister, who chairs the Council for Higher Education, to immediately intervene and overturn the decision that harms the aliya of young Jews from the United States and countries around the world, who wish to study in Israel and integrate into the country. The decision is irrational, destroying the wishes and hopes of many youth who saw the program as a chance to settle in Israel,” the College of Law and Business said on Tuesday.
“The CHE decision isolates Israel academically and prevents integration and cooperation with the world’s leading academic institutions which teach law in English,” the college said.
“Due to increased international trade and in light of foreign law firms’ entry into Israel, there is a great demand for lawyers speaking English as a mother tongue in the biggest law firms in Israel. The CHE decision will enhance this deficiency and stands contrary to market needs,” the college said.
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