Engineering attracting most Israeli students; law, business in decline

Overall, more than one-in-four of approximately 190,000 Israeli students studied either engineering or computer science and mathematics during the 2018/19 academic year.

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October 7, 2019 02:19
2 minute read.
Engineering attracting most Israeli students; law, business in decline

Researcher handles an autonomous robot used to test technology for the Adelis-SAMSON project, in Haifa. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Engineering has remained the most popular undergraduate course among Israeli students for a second consecutive year, new data published by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) has revealed ahead of the start of the 2019/20 academic year.

A total of 35,041 Israeli undergraduates studied engineering during the 2018/19 academic year, attracting more students than social studies (34,324) for the second year in a row. Social studies courses had consistently been the most popular field of study in recent decades.

During the past decade, the CHE has witnessed a staggering 80% increase in students learning computer science at universities and colleges. Last year, 16,780 Israelis studied computer science – boosted by many opting to study mathematics and statistics – compared with just 9,122 during the 2009/10 academic year.

Overall, more than one-in-four of approximately 190,000 Israeli students studied either engineering or computer science and mathematics during the 2018/19 academic year.

“The new data shows that we have met our target, and thanks to incentives for institutions and the expansion of infrastructure, we have been able to revolutionize academic programs in Israel – many students are choosing the challenge of hi-tech studies,” said Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, chairwoman of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee. “There has been a significant change in the academic system, which also has a major impact on the Israeli economy. In collaboration with the institutions, we are determined to continue the trend, promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel, and integrate academia with industry.”

While engineering and computer sciences have soared in popularity, undergraduate courses including law and business management have seen a 20% to 25% drop in student numbers over the past decade.

A similar decrease in students opting to study humanities – declining from 14,248 students in 2012/13 to 10,698 in 2018/19 – has led the CHE to advance programs encouraging the integration of humanities-related courses with other fields of study.

“The past decade has witnessed significant increases in engineering and computer science students, alongside a decline in law and business management,” said CHE deputy chairman Prof. Ido Perlman. “These trends are, among other things, due to market forces, alongside the promotion of the national program to strengthen hi-tech professions. We will soon complete the humanities advancement program, and will also work to integrate humanities into other fields of study and make them accessible to many students.”

Four Israeli universities were named last month among the 50 leading academic institutions in the world for producing successful entrepreneurs. Institutions were ranked according to those producing the most entrepreneurs who subsequently secure venture funding for their start-ups.

Undergraduate programs at Tel Aviv University were named eighth worldwide for producing successful entrepreneurs by the annual study, the highest among all non-US universities.

Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (14th), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (34th) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (49th) were all ranked in the top 50 universities for undergraduate programs.


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