College head urges student aid to stem Jerusalem exodus

Despite grandiose pronouncements, the state has failed to make Jerusalem more livable for young people.

nava ben zvi 88 298 (photo credit: )
nava ben zvi 88 298
(photo credit: )
Despite grandiose pronouncements, the state has failed to make the capital more livable for young people, the president of the city's Hadassah College said last week. "There is no long-term investment on both the state and municipal level," Hadassah College President Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi told The Jerusalem Post in an interview this week. Despite Knesset legislation on the subject, both the government and Jerusalem mayors, past and present, were to blame for failure to curtail the exodus of young people from the capital, Ben-Zvi said. "Modern Zionism is understanding what is a national priority... and the biggest secret in the system is that Jerusalem is [treated as] the periphery," she said. It was crucial that the government provide economic incentives to higher education students choosing to study in the capital, Ben-Zvi said, providing benefits that continued after graduation and helped them get established in their chosen fields. Jerusalem schools should also work together to create such job opportunities, something that did not happen today, she continued. "We do not have the courage to make this long-term investment," she said. Thousands of young people continue to leave Jerusalem, seeking better job opportunities and quality of life in the center of the country or in the city's suburbs, a trend that began a quarter century ago. Ben-Zvi, who left the the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Hadassah College seven years ago, put more of the blame on past and present governments than on the municipality, whose hands, she said, were often tied by limited budgets. Hadassah College - which offers eight bachelor's degrees - five in health sciences, two in communication and design, and one in computer and information service - has 2,000 students, up from 700 eight years ago. Half of the students are from Jerusalem, and about 150 receive state stipends and live in a downtown building that the college first rented three years ago. The college's $17 million annual budget includes about a third from Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America.