More students are applying to academic colleges as opposed to universities for undergraduate degrees, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report released Wednesday.
The report analyzed data on the applicants for undergraduate degree studies at academic colleges in comparison to undergraduate applicants to universities.
According to the report, between the academic years 2007/08 and 2014/15 there was a decrease in the number of undergraduate applicants to universities, from 36,400 to 32,200.
In contrast, the number of undergraduate applicants to academic colleges during these same years increased from 38,300 to 41,900 students.
The report also found that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get accepted to higher education institutions in Israel.
In the 2014/15 academic year only 67.2 percent of applicants were accepted to their first choice of studies at universities, while 69.6% of applicants were accepted for their first choice at academic colleges.
Furthermore 22.3% of applicants were rejected from universities, and 20.8% from academic colleges, up from 18.3% and 15.1%, respectively, in 2013/14.
The report also examined the fields of study in universities in which the demand far exceeded the available slots – emergency medicine, general medicine and dentistry.
Among academic colleges the fields included fashion design, occupational therapy and communication disorders.
The study found that the most select fields of study at universities, requiring the highest psychometric exam scores, were medicine, economics and political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, dentistry, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, medical sciences, electrical engineering, law, psychology, computer science and physics.
Among academic colleges, the most select fields of study were communication disorders, biomedical engineering, physiotherapy, architecture, occupational therapy and engineering sciences.
The report broke down the fields of study according to gender. Communication disorders, occupational therapy, special education, fashion design and interior design were the fields with the highest percentage of female applicants.
In contrast, the fields with the highest percentage of male applicants were mechanical engineering, structural engineering, electrical engineering and civil engineering.
With regards to sector, the report found that the acceptance rates among the Arab sector were significantly lower than among the Jewish sector – 55.4% acceptance compared to 69.9% acceptance among universities, and 60.6% acceptance compared to 71.1% acceptance among academic colleges.
The fields of study in highest demand among Arab students were Arabic-language literature, English language and literature, education, teacher training, musicology, dentistry, medical laboratory sciences, nursing, pharmaceutics and food engineering, and biotechnology.
“The figures must cause deep thought among the entire system, especially among the universities,” said Gilad Erditi, head of the National Union of Israeli Students.
Erditi said that the union believes that only through making a “conscious decision” to reengage students in “substantive ways,” as opposed to coming up with clever slogans, will the trends change.
“Academia must internalize that also the way of teaching and creating the challenge requires research that is built on trial and error,” he said.
The Association of University Heads in Israel also released a statement on the report’s findings.
“Universities are the vanguard of higher education and research in Israel, and they make a decisive contribution to the future and development of the State of Israel,” the association said.
“Therefore, the conditions for admission are higher than any other academic institution, and study programs require compliance with [increased] loads and conditions that not every student can meet. After all, given the relatively limited number of places at universities, at the end of the day those who are the best are accepted,” they said.
“Moreover, those students who meet these conditions get to be part of the leading research institutions and obtain a university degree, with all that entails,” they said.