The Council for Higher Education approves a medical school at Ariel University..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Council for Higher Education (CHE) approved the recommendation of Education Minister Naftali Bennett to establish a medical school at Ariel University in the West Bank’s Area C – under Israeli civil and military control. The decision passed by a vote of 13 to five.
Taking part in the debate, which was recommended by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit following two previous votes, were members of the CHE, representations from Israeli public and private universities and students.
The new faculty will begin operating in October 2019.
"A two-year battle ended with a great victory,” said Bennett in a statement. “CHE members made the right decision in favor of the State of Israel, which suffers from a severe shortage of doctors.”
He said that there had been enormous pressure by Leftist parties not to allow the school of medicine to move forward.
“This is a triumph of common sense over narrow interest, and I am proud of it,” he continued. "Congratulations to the students who will come to learn in the school this coming year. The victory is yours.”
Thursday's decision came two months after the CHE voted against the establishment of the school, going against Bennett and the recommendation of Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman, who said the school would be "an essential and critical component in increasing the number of medical students in Israel."
According to the Israel Medical Association, Israel faces a severe healthcare crisis, largely due to a lack of both licensed medical personnel and training vacancies for students.
“It is inconceivable that more than half of Israel’s medical graduates come from abroad in schools that are not always satisfactory,” Litzman said in February.
The CHE's earlier decision was actually its second ruling, undoing a precious decision to allow the school. In July 2018, the council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee voted 4-2 to establish the medical school at Ariel University.
Six months later in December, Deputy Attorney-General Dina Zilber ordered a re-vote due to an alleged conflict of interests. One of the members of the committee, Dr. Rivka Wadmany Shauman, had originally voted in favor of establishing the faculty of medicine at Ariel University – even though she was a candidate to teach at the institution as part of the teacher training program.
From February until now, Bennett has been fighting the February decision, in that the CHE had previously found that Ariel University’s medical program meets all the requirements for quality training of medical practitioners in Israel. Ariel had even held an inaugural ceremony for the new medical school in summer 2018, shortly after the initial vote.
Ariel University was founded in 1982 as a branch of Bar-Ilan University. It became an independent college in 2004 and in 2012 was granted accreditation by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.
Today, Ariel University is home to more than 15,000 students and 300 faculty members. In the field of health sciences, the university already offers a pre-med program and has 30 research labs.
The new medical faculty is named after Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam. It was reported that the Adelsons donated $5 million to the medical school, nearly a quarter of the estimated $28.4m. price tag.
Israel currently has five other medical schools: the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University in Safed; the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa; the Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University; the Hadassah School of Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.
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