Private programs in higher education to be reduced

The extra programs run by academic institutions are not funded by the Planning and Budgetary Committee of the CHE, and instead serve as a means for universities to earn additional income.

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February 10, 2016 00:34
1 minute read.
Classroom

Empty Classroom. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Non-state funded programs at academic institutions will be significantly cut back in the coming school year amid criticism that they disproportionately benefit the affluent.

Gadi Frank, director-general of the Council for Higher Education (CHE), on Tuesday told a panel of the Knesset State Control Committee that institutions that don’t comply with the call to minimize these programs will be fined and will not receive approval by the CHE for their academic programs.

The extra programs run by academic institutions are not funded by the Planning and Budgetary Committee of the CHE, and instead serve as a means for universities to earn additional income from students willing to pay significantly higher tuition to earn degrees. They are generally offered to students interested in pursuing Master’s degrees, often with minimal acceptance requirements compared to the equivalent standard academic programs.

The committee learned that in the 2013/14 academic year there were some 3,505 students enrolled in these special programs, compared to 2,096 in 2008/09 and 1,400 in 2004/05.

“It cannot be that only the very rich will receive an education,” said committee chairwoman MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid).

“These programs use the services, salaries and facilities of the state-funded university – but only students who have paid more get to use them. Despite the committee’s demand to stop registration for these programs, everything continues as usual,” she said.

Last year the committee called on the CHE to enforce the decision to halt university registration for these extra academic programs.

“Under the nose of the public supervision there are luxury tracks, we talk about equality in Israeli society but do the opposite,” said MK Yaakov Margi (Shas), chairman of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee.

Frank responded to the committee that the CHE had made it clear that the request to suspend registration was “unacceptable” because it required too many changes vis-a-vis the academic institutions and would result in countless legal proceedings.

Nevertheless, he said, these programs would be scaled back in the upcoming academic year.

He emphasized, however, that, of the country’s approximately 150,000 undergraduate students, just some 2,000 were enrolled in these special programs.


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