University undergraduate enrollment remains on the decline

The 2017-2018 is the third academic year in a row to show a decline in undergraduate enrollment in universities.

Group of students raising hands during a lesson in the classroom. [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Group of students raising hands during a lesson in the classroom. [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Undergraduate enrollment in Israel’s universities are continuing to experience a slow and steady decline ahead of the 2017-18 academic year.
According to the annual report released by the Center for Higher Education on Wednesday to mark the start of the new academic year, this is the third year in a row in which undergraduate student numbers have dropped.
A small 0.2% decrease in the total undergraduate enrollment brought the current number of students from last year's 233,185 down to 232,700.
62 colleges and universities will usher in a new academic year on Sunday when 309,530 students are expected to resume their studies.
Compared to last year, this is a 0.3% increase, which recorded a combined total of 308,500 students. This increase came from higher enrollments in master's and doctorate programs as well as from colleges.
The report notes a 2.6% increase for masters degree students that went from 63,00 to 64,615 students and a 0.1% increase in doctorate students that went from 11,000 to 11,015.
Colleges also experienced a 2.3% increase in enrollment from last year, going from from 89,590 students to 91,670, 27,860 of which are new students, 8,150 more than last year.
Out of 309,530 students, university undergraduate enrollment decreased by 2.5% with a current total of 74,710 compared to last year’s 76,650, while The Open University experienced a 3.1% decrease in enrollment from 41,265 students to 40,000 students.
Noticeably, a 8.1% drop in enrollment in academic certification courses shows 1,200 students compared to last years 1,315.
According to the report, some 58,750 students in both colleges and universities will begin their first year of academic studies, this is about 1,000 fewer than the previous academic year.
According to the CHE’s calculations, the number of new students enrolled in universities is estimated to be around 22,750: a drop of some 1,300 students from last year.
The CHE explains that the decrease in university undergraduate enrollment has less to do with to do with the academic institutions themselves and more to do with a population shift stating that the average age of an undergraduate student is 21 years old and notes “there are less 21-year-olds in Israel than in previous years, therefore the student enrollment is a reflection of the population.”
The most popular majors for undergrads in both colleges and universities for last year were engineering and architecture with 18.9% student enrollment, Social Sciences with 18.6% enrollment and teacher training courses with 17.0% enrollment.