Professors at universities and colleges across the country rallied on Tuesday,
along with administrative staff and the National Union of Israeli Students,
against anticipated cuts to higher education budgets.
In response to the
nationwide movement, the Knesset Finance Committee met Tuesday morning and
unanimously opposed the cutbacks.
The committee, which included MKs from
all parties, discussed the importance of continuing to implement the multi-year
plan to promote higher education, on which the Treasury recently
The plan means the country’s higher education system will enjoy a
cumulative budget of more than NIS 2 billion at least until the 2015 academic
The assembly added that it “sees the higher education system as
essential to society and the future of Israel.”
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg,
who had initiated the plan, called higher education “a pillar of the
“Hi-tech relies entirely on higher education, and the fact that
we are No. 2 in the world in terms of Nobel Prizes per capita shows that it
contributes more than any other social factor,” he said.
On Monday, the
National Union of Israeli Students called for the new government to continue
investing in higher education as the outgoing Knesset had, and prevent the
possibility of any cutbacks.
Tuesday marked a record number of
institutions joining forces to protest. As vigils and information sessions took
place on campuses, classes were suspended for two hours.
institutions included Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,
the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, the Technion – Israel
Institute of Technology, the University of Haifa, and Shenkar College, as well
as Sapir College, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and other private
“We will not allow harm to be done to research and higher
education,” Hebrew University President Prof. Menahem Ben- Sasson said on
“Research and students are the future of the State of
Uri Hershtik, chairman of the National Union of Israeli
Students, asserted in a statement on Monday that “it has been shown previously
that a violation of higher education is a serious mistake that affects the
growth of the economy.”
At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Yesh Atid MK Boaz
Toporovsky expressed hope that “we will not have to deal with the
“We made a lot of noise today, but I still do not know who will be
the finance minister,” he said. “This is why it is important that there be a
clear and unequivocal agreement signed with the state that the multi-year plan
must be carried on.”
He added, “The future of higher education lies here
on our shoulders.”
The Finance Ministry told The Jerusalem Post that its
budgeting department saw the multi-year program as highly
“Nevertheless, it will be up to the new government to
prioritize the budget and make any necessary cuts,” the ministry said.