Deal ends university student strike

Classes to resume Thursday; semester will be extended by up to a month.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Student leaders accepted a government-sponsored compromise deal late Monday night, effectively ending the 36-day-old university strike. 21 student representatives voted in favor of the deal, while 11 voted against. "I believe that this agreement will be maintained," head of the National Student Organization Itay Shonshain said after the vote. "Before the struggle, the government ignored the student public, but the struggle bore fruit." Classes are expected to resume as normal on Thursday. Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh, who represents the country's university presidents, announced that the current semester would not be canceled but that it would be extended by up to a month, depending on the requirements of each university. The draft of the agreement was formulated several days before in collaboration with the prime minister's office. According to the agreement, tuition will remain at its current level, a billion of shekels will be returned to higher education institutions over the course of four fiscal years, and the Shochat Committee will deliberate future tuition rates with the students until agreement is reached. On Sunday it seemed a resolution was near, but the strike continued due to disruptions in negotiations by rogue student protestors. Student leaders met in Ramat Gan in the early evening hours on Sunday, but hundreds of protesters arrived on the scene and prevented discussions from commencing. The student negotiators then relocated to a "secret" location - Derby College in Or Yehuda - but protesters followed them there and again impeded any possible progress. After midnight, student leaders decided to disperse and vote by fax. However, halfway through the vote, the vote was abandoned and the decision pushed off to a later date. The protesters who had for a time succeeded in keeping the strike alive by disrupting negotiations belonged to both student camps - those who were unwilling to compromise on tuition and state subsidy for higher education, and those who were anxious to return to classes out of fear that any further extension of the strike might jeopardize the semester.