Global crisis costs local colleges $225m.

Construction projects dependent on donors likely be halted, and top university administrators could face pay cuts.

Kinneret College 248.88 (photo credit: Abe Selig )
Kinneret College 248.88
(photo credit: Abe Selig )
The global financial crisis has cost Israeli universities and colleges about $225 million in lost revenues, raising the likelihood of cutbacks, according to a new study by the group that oversees funding to institutions of higher learning. Council for Higher Education spokesman Yuval Lidor said the figure was the preliminary assessment of a committee set up to examine the impact of falling financial markets and the collapse of US financier Bernard Madoff's investment fund. "The final figure could be even higher," he said. Lidor said the committee would present the Treasury with its recommendations for facing the crisis at the beginning of March. Haaretz reported Monday that the Madoff collapse alone had cost higher educational institutions about $50m. Madoff had a number of wealthy Jewish philanthropists among his clients and their losses have translated into smaller or canceled donations to a number of Israeli institutions. In addition, some institutions invested directly in his fund. Madoff was arrested December 11 after allegedly telling investigators he lost as much as $50 billion in client money in a giant pyramid scam. Haaretz said Israeli universities had invested money for their research and development programs in the capital markets and the falling value of those investments was likely to have serious budgetary consequences for them. Lidor said the losses would not cause any of Israel's six universities to collapse, and he did not expect research projects or scholarships to be affected. But he said construction projects dependent on donors would likely be halted, and top university administrators could face pay cuts. Tel Aviv University, for instance, recently cut the salaries of its directors by 5 percent, he said. Israel's higher-education system is one of the country's proudest accomplishments, producing world-class experts in science, medicine, economics and other fields. But years of budget cuts, relatively low salaries for top professors and resistance to reform have resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of fulltime academic positions over the years. This has led to a dangerous brain drain that experts warn could tarnish the system for generations to come. *