'Universities can't open academic year'

Presidents cite government's "neglect," appeal to students to "join struggle" for higher education.

By ELIE LESHEM
October 7, 2008 19:18
1 minute read.
'Universities can't open academic year'

hebrew university 224.88. (photo credit: Hebrew University )

 
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"Dear students, regrettably, in the conditions that have arisen in the wake of negotiations with the Finance Ministry, we cannot open the academic year." Thus reads an urgent plea signed by the presidents of Israel's seven universities and circulated Tuesday to students, entreating them to "join the struggle" for the future of higher education. The presidents proceed to rail against the government, saddling the state with responsibility for the move and lamenting that "Over the past eight years the higher education system has suffered from budget cuts that do not allow it to function properly." "The government's promises to tackle the problems in a thorough manner that will ensure the long-term survival of the system have not been lived up to," The announcement read. "Negotiations with the Finance Ministry did not facilitate an agreement that would allow the system to function properly." The letter says that the system is "slowly fading" and asserts that "neglecting higher education... encourages brain drain and suffocates excellence that was built over a period of many years." "We understand the grave repercussions of our decision... both for us and for you (the students), but we are of the opinion that the government's lack of proper decision-making leaves us with no choice in our struggle for the future of higher education. "It is not too late. We hope that the government will preclude higher education being dealt a blow for the third year running... and ask that you join us in our struggle," the letter concludes. On Monday, the Council of University Presidents held an emergency meeting during which it was decided that universities would not open on their scheduled date of November 2 if universities are not guaranteed additional resources in accordance with the Shochat Committee's draft plan. JPost.com staff contributed to this report

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