Israeli students kick off higher education academic year

Some 234,965 students will be enrolled in bachelor’s programs, 63,120 will pursue master’s degrees, and 11,075 will study in doctoral programs.

Opening of the 2016-2017 Academic Year at Ben-Gurion University. (photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
Opening of the 2016-2017 Academic Year at Ben-Gurion University.
(photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
Some 310,565 students kicked off the academic school year on Sunday at 63 higher-education institutions throughout the country.
According to the Council for Higher Education (CHE), some 234,965 are enrolled in bachelor’s programs, 63,120 are pursuing master’s degrees, and 11,075 are in doctoral programs. These figures marked a 0.2% increase from the previous academic year, in which 309,870 students were enrolled in academic institutions. However, this represented a 0.6% decrease from the previous year in the number of new undergraduate students – indicative of a steady decline in the number of students enrolling in higher education.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the opening of the school year and called it a “part of Israel’s strengthening” at the weekly cabinet meeting.
“In the previous decade we were in a very severe crisis in higher education,” he said.
“We invested many billions in it with the understanding that this is a basic component, not only in our national life, but also vis-à-vis our national security.”
Netanyahu wished the students, lecturers and researchers a “rich and productive academic year.” He said the government would continue to invest in developing higher education in the coming years as “part of that same vision of a strong, advanced and technological Israel.”
This academic year the CHE will implement its new multiyear plan, which will see the allocation of an additional NIS 6.8 billion to the higher- education system over the course of the next six years.
The multiyear program will place an emphasis on creating new research infrastructure, the internationalization of the higher education system, integrating weaker population groups such as Arab-Israelis, haredim (ultra-Orthodox) and Ethiopian populations into higher education and reinventing the university as a hub of innovation.
The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) released its annual Student Survey on Sunday. It found that students at academic colleges were more satisfied than their counterparts at universities.
Despite these reports, several leading universities released statements ahead of the opening of the academic year with data revealing an increase in student enrollment for 2014/15.
Tel Aviv University announced that some 29,000 students would be studying at the institution this year, marking a 1% increase in enrollment for undergraduate degrees compared to the previous year.
According to the university, this year the most sought after fields of study included computer sciences and electrical engineering.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced that some 9,500 students began their undergraduate studies Sunday, and an additional 2,500 are pursuing master’s degrees. The university said there was a 5% increase in registrants compared to last year.
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology began the school year last week with 2,000 new students. The most sought-after fields of study at the university included medicine, electrical engineering, computer sciences and mechanical engineering.
The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, which was among the top ranked by students, kicked off its academic year with 2,400 new students pursuing undergraduate degrees. Of these students, 850 students will be studying in the Raphael Recanati International School, joining some 1,000 continuing students from more than 80 countries worldwide.
This year, with rising antisemitism throughout the world on college campuses, the international school registered a 140% increase in the number of students arriving from Panama, a 70% increase in students from South Africa and a 60% increase in the number of students from Brazil.
The only university to not open its doors on Sunday was the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which delayed the opening of the school year by two weeks due to a budgetary dispute.