Heads of Student Associations from schools across Israel have come out against recent calls to boycott the Ariel University Center by university presidents from around the country.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the association heads said that “members of the student authorities in Israel, and the students in Ariel in particular, are shocked and scared by the clear danger being posed to Israel’s democracy and academia.”

The statement continues: “In an advanced country there must be an absolute separation between academic, cultural and religious institutions and politics.”

The letter is signed by the head of the student associations at five Israeli universities and 28 colleges, but does not include representatives of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology or the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Last week, the presidents of all seven Israeli universities wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz in which they said the declaration of Ariel University Center as a university would “deal a mortal blow to the higher-education system in Israel.” All the improvements made in Israeli academia in recent years could be set back by the decision to make Ariel College a university, the presidents said.

Universities in Israel receive research funding, unlike colleges, which receive about 50 percent of funding from the government.

In July 2012, AUC’s five-year transition period from being a college to a university is set to end, after which the institution is scheduled to receive government funding for research.

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