Interdisclipinary Center Herzliya logo.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Council for Higher Education voted on Tuesday to allow the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya to apply to establish a doctorate program in law.
This marked the first time that the council has granted permission to an academic institution that is not a university to apply to open a PhD program, paving the way for IDC Herzliya to become the first private university in Israel.
“Today we are making history,” said Education Minister and chairman of the council Naftali Bennett, who backed the decision.
“After a decade of dragging our feet we have come to a good decision, in order to diversify academic research and expand the possibilities of education for students,” he said.
“The opening of the research world to additional institutions will also strengthen the research in the universities, will encourage brilliant and outstanding minds to pursue advanced degrees, and will raise the quality of academic research in the State of Israel,” he said.
Though the Interdisciplinary Center is not a research institution, it is widely regarded as one of the leading colleges in Israel, particularly in the field of law.
The Interdisciplinary Center issued a request in January 2016 to launch a PhD program in law, and underwent a thorough vetting process to ensure the institution met the criteria.
The school must now formally submit its request to create the doctoral studies program in law. After that the program will be evaluated by an international committee appointed by the Council for Higher Education, while its budgetary and planning aspects will be examined simultaneously.
The decision drew strong opposition from the Association of University Heads, which claimed it will “cheapen” doctoral degrees in Israel.
“Instead of acting in the national interest, which is the advancement of academic research and Israel’s position as a leader in groundbreaking science, there is now a process of approving a doctorate [program] for a specific college. This is an approval that will harm the balance between research universities and colleges,” the Association of University Heads said in a statement on Monday evening ahead of the vote.
The university heads added that doctoral programs should only be granted by institutions dedicated to long-term research in numerous fields, and not simply for the sake of becoming doctors without investing the time and effort of deep and meaningful research.
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