293,000 students head back to universities, colleges

Number is 3.4 percent higher than last year, with a rise in those studying in academic colleges as opposed to universities.

ben gurion university building 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ben gurion university building 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The rain that swept into the country on Friday wasn’t the only sign that the summer is officially over; 293,000 students will return to 66 institutions of higher education when the 5771/72 academic year opens on Sunday.
That number is 3.4 percent higher than last year. Of those 293,000 students, 228,740 will be studying for their bachelor’s degree, 52,460 for their master’s, and 10,600 for a doctorate.
This year will see a significant rise in the number of those studying for their first degree at an academic college as opposed to a university.
An estimated 88,540 students will study in colleges, up 6.2% from last year’s 83,355.
The number of those studying in teachers’ institutes will rise to 22,000, up 9.5% from 5770/71, when 20,100 studied in such institutions.
In the early ’90s, 85% of tertiary students studied in universities and only 6.4% in colleges. Today, 42% are enrolled in universities and 46.7% in colleges.
Some 23% of students will are enrolled in social sciences tracks, and 18.7% are studying engineering or architecture. Only 1.5% will be studying physical sciences, and 0.5% agriculture.
Throughout Monday, the National Student Union will maintain a situation room to field inquiries from students across the country, at (03) 609-3330.
Also on Monday, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Manuel Trachtenberg, head of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, will unveil a multi-year plan for higher education reform, to be implemented beginning this academic year.
Sa’ar has said the plan “will encourage excellence in research and teaching, and the strengthening of higher education in the social and geographic periphery of Israel.”
The plan includes the opening of four centers for research excellence, which will delve into computer science, alternative energy, molecular biology and medicine.
One of the research centers’ roles will be to encourage Israeli academics who have left the country to return to be leaders in their fields.
According to the Education Ministry, more than 80 researchers have signed on to work at the four institutes.
They are currently working at a number of world-class institutions, including Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, the University of California at Berkeley and New York University.
Sa’ar has called the campaign to reverse the braindrain “a national priority that will strengthen Israeli academia.”
The program calls for the establishment of an additional 30 research centers over the next five years, at an investment of some NIS 1.5 billion.
The new plan will also call for budget increases to raise the number of students studying in higher education in the periphery and to encourage access to higher education for minorities and the religious sector. Proponents of the plan expect it to double the number of Haredim pursuing a higher education, and increase by 25% the number of Arab students.
This year, Arabs will make up 11% of tertiary students, as opposed to 7% last school year. The increase is credited to improved access to education in the peripheral areas where many Arabs live.