Bar Ilan Universtyi students college lawn hanging out 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy Bar Ilan University)
As budget talks take place, rumors of cutbacks in higher education – later
denied by Finance Minister Yair Lapid – sparked controversy on Monday as
representatives of the National Union of Israeli Students claimed the Treasury
intends to reduce the higher education budget if students don’t agree to an
increase in tuition fees.
The union said the information came from a
Finance Ministry official.
Students from across the country have
threatened to take to the streets following the rumors.
Union of Israeli Students wrote Monday on its Facebook page that increasing
tuition and cutting the higher education budget will cause severe harm to
Israeli society. It reposted a picture of Finance Minister Yair Lapid with the
caption: “The minister of finance is asking to increase tuition. It’s only fair:
If the minister did not earn a degree, no one should.”
University’s student organization also addressed the issue in a published
statement and stressed that, “Education is the key to growth in the Israeli
economy and it is time to think a little ahead. They promised us the ‘decade of
education’ and it seems we’re only going to get education for the
Via Facebook on Monday morning, Lapid denied that he intended to
increase tuition and pointed a finger at the union for starting unfounded
As he addressed students, Lapid wrote: “You have been
played. I got up this morning and found out war was declared against cutbacks
that never existed,” he said.
“When I came to the Treasury I was promised
there will be quite a few spins, but this is ridiculous.”
In his post,
Lapid explained that union representatives only spread such rumors in order to
have him deny them later and make it appear as if he had caved in to
“It’s a little sad that the youngest public officials use the
oldest tricks in politics,” he said. “And if I thought that harm would be caused
to students, I would have gone over to my house to protest against
Later Tuesday, Lapid spoke to Finance Ministry officials to
clarify what happened, and was told that they did not issue an ultimatum to the
NUIS, Channel 2 reported.
Rather, the Finance Ministry officials wanted
to discuss what the sides would do after a previously- signed agreement between
them on funding for higher education expires in September.
Labor MK and
former head of the student union Itzik Shmuli reacted to Lapid’s statement and
called on the minister to strengthen his relationship with the officials who
seem to be spreading information on his behalf.
Shmuli said that Lapid’s
claim that the information was invented by the union is outrageous.
is strange that the finance minister did not see fit to come [to the Knesset]
for a special discussion on economic measures and instead chose to answer
through Facebook,” he added.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.