Universities threaten to delay start of new school year

Council of University Presidents demands NIS 300m. budget increase, immediate implementation of Shochat reforms.

September 24, 2007 20:56
2 minute read.
Hebrew University 88

Hebrew University 88. (photo credit: )

The Council of University Presidents, led by Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh, says member schools will not open the 5768 (2007-07) academic year on time, unless additional funding and other changes are approved. The council is calling for the immediate implementation of the Shochat Committee's recommendations and the eventual restoration of NIS 1.2 billion in cuts made over the past few years, with the first quarter of the sum - NIS 300m. - coming this year. "This is not a strike," Kaveh told the The Jerusalem Post Monday. "It is a simple manifestation of the fact that we cannot otherwise pay the salaries required to open the universities for the entire year." The crisis had been caused by a "dead end" in his council's dealings with government officials, he said. Kaveh also said there was a need to immediately implement the reforms proposed by the Shochat Committee - the Committee for Examining the Higher Education System - in July. He cited the universities' inability to hire new faculty members ever since the cuts began several years ago. The ensuing brain drain is viewed by the council as another symptom of the weakening higher education system. "Post-doctoral [Israeli] students who attended universities abroad could not get jobs back here and had to remain abroad," said Kaveh, adding that as many Israeli professors were working abroad and "enriching other universities" as were employed in the Jewish state. Students, however, took a more cynical view of the council's demands, while outright opposing the Shochat reforms. "We think the Shochat Committee was not objective from day one and that it only wanted to raise tuition and fees," National Union of Israeli Students representative Efrat Brosilovski told the Post. "We think that [Moshe] Kaveh and his friends - the other presidents at the other universities - are taking care of only their own interests and aren't thinking of the student public at all. They just want money from the government... and embrace the Shochat reforms because [they] take care of their interests," Brosilovski said. The students have an agreement with the government that any changes to the current budget be discussed with their union first. "I am sure we will get to a settlement, and it doesn't matter what the presidents of the universities say," Brosilovski said. The Shochat Committee recommended that annual tuition be raised from NIS 8,588 to NIS 14,800. Of that higher sum, NIS 5,800 would be paid at the beginning of each year of studies, and the rest at no more than NIS 95 per month per year of study during the decade after the student completed his studies. Repayment would depend on the student's income reaching NIS 5,300 per month. If the former student did not reach this salary during within 10 years, the loan would become a grant. In addition, grants would be set aside for poor students to cover the NIS 5,800 base tuition, NIS 30m. would go toward scholarships in the humanities, and millions more would be earmarked for room and board for poor students studying far from home.

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