Interior Ministry to expand work permits for foreign students

The idea is to create a “green path” for academics coming to Israel, making it a more attractive destination for international students.

January 23, 2014 01:54
2 minute read.
Ben-Gurion University campus in Beersheba

Ben-Gurion University campus in Beersheba 370. (photo credit: BGU)

The Interior Ministry is set to expand working rights for foreign students studying in Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

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Though details of the process are still being worked out, the ministry is expected to approve new rules that allow foreign academics and experts to take jobs lecturing in their fields in universities.

Details on issues such as transferring tourist visas to student visas, allowing researchers to continue their lab work beyond the end of studies, and expanding options for students’ families are still being hammered out.

The idea behind the reforms is to create a “green path” for academics coming to Israel, making it a more attractive destination for international students.

Current restrictions either make it difficult or altogether impossible for foreign students – especially non-Jews – to study or do research in the country.

Many Israeli academics do postdocs abroad to gain international perspective, experience and connections.

By bringing in more foreign students from top universities around the world, Israel hopes to increase the level of intermingling for its students at home and build up its own post-doctoral research programs.

Already, programs are in place to bring dozens of students from China and India to study at Israeli universities.

The ministry’s impending decision will benefit the Planning and Budgetary Committee (PBC) of the Council for Higher Education’s multi-year reform plan, which aims to attract top researchers, faculty and students to Israel and to strengthen scientific research and international cooperation.

The six-year reform plan focuses on three main aspects: encouraging and supporting excellence in academic teaching and research, improving access to higher education, and upgrading and improving current research and teaching infrastructures.

To those ends, the PBC has introduced a number of major initiatives including the establishment of Israeli Centers for Research Excellence (I-COREs), an association of outstanding researchers in a specific field dedicated to promoting groundbreaking research.

In addition, the PBC has placed a spotlight on faculty recruitment, with the ambitious goal of hiring some 2,000 senior faculty to higher education institutions within the six-year time frame. The new faculty will be hired through the individual institutions, and some in specific research areas through the I-CORE program.

This dramatic increase in number of positions, coupled with upgrading of research and teaching infrastructures, aims to help Israeli universities cope with the “brain drain” and attract the best faculty and students from top institutions around the world.

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