Guidelines for the new government will include the "Free to Study" program.
By TALYA HALKIN
Senior Labor Party officials involved in coalition negotiations with Kadima revealed that the guidelines for the new government will include "Free to Study," a new model for financing the tuition of college and university students.
Meanwhile, little progress was made by Kadima and Labor negotiation teams over the holiday. The sticking point, said negotiation officials continued to be the issue of minimum wage, which Kadima wanted to raise over a longer period than Labor had hoped.
The teams were close, however, on reaching an agreement over the final wording of a clause regarding the convergence plan. Labor has pushed for a stronger policy towards dismantling illegal settlements in the West Bank, and the two have apparently reached a compromise over the issue.
The tuition model, which was initially proposed by high tech executive and Labor activist Guy Spigelman, was expounded upon in a bill submitted last October by MK Yuli Tamir, Labor's candidate for education minister in the new government.
According to the Australian-born Spigelman, who has been living in Israel for 11 years, "Free to Study" is based on a successful Australian model, which will allow students - regardless of their economic status - to postpone tuition payment until they have graduated and have jobs.
Students will then begin repayment only once they are working and earning a salary equal to, or higher than, the average national wage.
The implementation of "Free to Study," Spigelman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, "will be a real bonus for Israeli students."
By providing a way to finance tuition, both Spigelman and Tamir noted when they first presented the new model, "Free to Study" can free up currently existing scholarships available to pay for students' living expenses, and thus allow additional funds to be allocated for research and development. That will attract young scholars back to Israel, and contribute towards the overall improvement of the country's education system.
At the very earliest, the new model could be implemented during the 2007-2008 academic school year.
As an immigrant to Israel, Spigelman said, he felt that the acceptance of the model he had borrowed from his country of origin was proof that "English-speakers have a lot to contribute to Israeli public life."
"It's time that Jews coming here from abroad bring not just money, but also ideas from our countries that can be implemented for the betterment of Israeli society," he said.
Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report.
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