Students who receive a diploma this year signed by "The Ariel University Center" will not receive recognition from the Council for Higher Education. "There is no such thing as a university center," the council plenum announced on Tuesday night. "Only diplomas with the name 'Ariel College in Judea and Samaria' will be recognized." A spokesman for Ariel hinted that the decision of the council, which is chaired by Education Minister Yuli Tamir, a founder of Peace Now, was politically motivated. "Under the government of Ariel Sharon, when Limor Livnat was education minister, the legislative groundwork was created to recognize an institution of higher learning beyond the Green Line as a university," the spokesman said. "However, all progress was halted after the government was changed." The area beyond the Green Line is a separate legal entity, and the IDF's Central Command is the de facto administrator there. According to Ariel's spokesman, legislation was approved in 2005 that would pave the way for a university beyond the Green Line on condition that the Central Command gave permission. But this permission has not been given. The spokesman also said that the Registrar of NGOs already recognized Ariel as a university center and that Ariel had met all the requirements needed by law to be considered a university. "In accordance with the demands, we have established four departments that offer master's degrees - social work, business administration, psychology and electrical engineering." A spokesman for the Council for Higher Learning said its decision had nothing to do with politics. "Two years ago the council reached the conclusion that there was no need for more research universities," said the spokesman. He did not say why. Ariel blamed the council for "unlawful behavior" and using "scare tactics" against Ariel's students. "The council's announcement comes at a time when the outcome of the final verdict regarding Ariel's status has yet to be determined by legal representatives. If the council were truly convinced that it was right it would have waited for the final results instead of acting unlawfully and overstepping the boundaries of its jurisdiction," Ariel's spokesman said. However, the council said it had no intention of harming Ariel's students and that every possible step would be taken to protect their interests. Ariel, located in the town that bears the same name, is a logical place of learning for residents of Samaria. Also, many graduates of yeshivot and pre-military academies in the area choose Ariel because the location enables them to continue their Torah studies in parallel with their academic studies. About four percent of the students are Arab Israelis. In the summer of 2007 Ariel unilaterally changed its name from a college to a university center.