Hebrew U 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Hebrew University)
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced this month it will cancel some 100
courses in its Faculty of the Humanities for the upcoming academic year, due to
low student registration.
The decision will lead to the dismissal of some
80 lecturers and staff faculty members.
Following the announcement, the
Non-Tenured Research and Academic Staff Union at the university petitioned the
Jerusalem Labor Court to prevent the act.
In a letter written to the
university president earlier this month, the union wrote that closing the
courses will “severely impair students” who will have only a small number of
elective courses to choose from, and also harm faculty members, assistant
teachers and external teachers by violating their work agreements, which were
supposed to guarantee job security and employment conditions.
of the union Esther Sarok said in a statement that “university president Prof.
Ben-Sasson has declared war on the humanities and on junior faculty.”
hope that he will cancel the dismissals immediately and avoid hurting us and the
students,” she added.
The dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, Prof.
Reuven Amitai, told The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday that the decision to cancel
courses had been on the radar for several months and that teachers have been
aware of the possibility since May.
“We’re facing budgetary problems and
need to deal with the overdraft situation here at the faculty,” he explained.
“The other thing is that we have too many courses: it is a faculty of 190
professors, a couple of hundreds of external teachers and over 1,100 courses,
which we are proud of, but we can only allow ourselves so many.”
the combination of the budget issue and the large amount of courses, we have
decided to reduce the amount of courses taught by external teachers, some of
whom are teaching assistants,” Amitai added.
“Our understanding is that
if we reduce the number of courses taught by outside teachers, the students will
have less courses and the number of students will go up.”
issued a statement on the issue this week, saying that the institution offers
“more electives in the humanities than any other academic institution in the
“As part of its normal work processes, the university regularly
streamlines some of its activities, including reducing where possible very
poorly attended elective courses, while at the same time maintaining a high
academic level,” the university wrote.
“The termination of lecturers’
employment is done according to the law and in accordance with the university’s
teaching needs, and does not violate any collective labor agreements,” it
“In contrast to the information provided by the Non- Tenured
Research and Academic Staff Union, the employment of 60 lecturers is expected to
end, while another 30 lecturers had already planned to leave the university in
favor of postdoctoral studies abroad or joining other academic
It is unfortunate that the union has chosen legal action
over dialogue,” the statement continued.
“Several dozen will lose their
jobs, and I’m very very sorry about that, but unfortunately at the end of the
day we have to be fiscally responsible,” Amitai told the Post.
“The union is
responding as they think is right,” he added. “Instead of coming to us with a
counter-proposal, they filed a court order against us, which is completely
unnecessary. I am a little disappointed. I expected to see them rolling up their
sleeves more and start talks.”
The union stressed the importance of
“learning, teaching and research in the humanities” and expressed concern for
the future of the field at the Hebrew University in particular and in the
country as a whole.