Eight US universities to launch study programs in Israel

Jewish Agency announces new initiative to encourage study abroad and academic exchange in Israel.

StudentsAtHebrewU311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Eight of the US’s top universities, including Columbia’s Barnard College, will launch study-abroad programs in Israel in 2011 and 2012 as part of a new initiative to encourage study abroad and academic exchange here, the Jewish Agency announced Tuesday.
Currently, some 1,500 American university students study in Israel each year. The Masa program, which is part of the Jewish Agency, hopes to boost those numbers considerably so that one day they are on a par with places like London and Paris, where tens of thousands of young Americans go to spend a semester abroad each year.
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“We want to double the number of students from abroad studying in Israel from 1,500 to 3,000 in the next two to three years,” Avi Rubel, Masa Israel North American director, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Universities in the US are increasingly trying to set up programs in other countries so that more of their students have a diverse menu of studying abroad. Up until now the program has mostly been open in Jewish studies, but not business [studies], for example. So what we’re trying to do is create partnerships that will bring new students in these initiates.”
In recent years, higher education has seen a trend toward “global universities,” networks of institutions and branches providing opportunities for study worldwide. Although Israel’s universities and colleges produce an unusually high number of innovators, the country’s higher education system lags behind many other countries in creating these overseas partnerships.
Working closely with the Institute of International Education (IIE), Masa has selected eight institutions that will receive a total of $400,000 ($50,000 each) in seed grants to develop study programs with Israeli institutions.
The partnerships include Washington University’s Olin Business School with IDC Herzliya; Columbia’s Barnard College with Hebrew University; and the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business with the University of Haifa. The other participating universities are Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Michigan State University, the New Jersey state university system and the University of Florida.
Other universities with already existing programs in Israel are Harvard, which partners with the Hebrew University, and the University of Miami’s UGalilee, which receive a combined total of $85,000 in seed grants from Masa Israel.
Israel currently ranks 22nd out of the top 25 study-abroad destinations for students from the United States, according to the IIE’s 2009 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, trailing behind countries like Ecuador, which is number 14.
“This is the most natural time in America for a young adult to leave,” Rubel said. “So especially with all the Birthright alumni, it’s a high priority to focus on study abroad in Israel and the economy.”