CHE gives BGU 3 weeks to show curriculum changes

Political department at Ben-Gurion University must show a concrete commitment to incorporating varied political approaches.

Ben Gurion University 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of Ben Gurion University)
Ben Gurion University 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of Ben Gurion University)
The Council for Higher Education ruled it would grant Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s politics department three weeks to show a concrete commitment to changing its curriculum to incorporate more varied political approaches.
The resolution came after BGU presented its arguments in favor of keeping the political science department open at a meeting with the CHE on Tuesday morning in Jerusalem, after which the council deliberated privately. Dozens of the department’s students and political leaders also gathered outside the building to protest the program’s closure.
Ronen Shoval, head of Im Tirtzu, the organization that has lead the fight against the department’s “unbalanced” teachings, told The Jerusalem Post he is satisfied with Tuesday’s outcome: “I think it’s great. The deliberation at the CHE and the fact that this initiated a process in which the end goal is pluralism, that’s my victory.”
“The most important for me is to see academic pluralism in the department without silencing of more right-wing political approaches. I don’t really care how this goal is achieved as long as it’s achieved,” he continued.
Shoval said he is happy that “the CHE didn’t give in to all the attempts BGU made to try to scare it, and is forcing the university to make the changes. This is its role as an academic regulator.”
BGU released a statement following the decision which stated: “The university has presented to the Council for Higher Education sub-committee the data which indicates that there is really no room to criticize the department, since its curriculum is very diverse and accepted by experts worldwide.”
“The university will not accept any decision that leaves the ‘threat of closure’ over the head of the department,” the statement continued. “However, the university will continue to cooperate with the Council for Higher Education, to ensure the highest academic level of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion.”
BGU must present the CHE with commitments to making the required changes in three weeks. Those changes mainly include bringing in new faculty from varied political backgrounds.
Last month, the department was criticized for hiring “more of the same” faculty.
Shoval said he trusts the CHE to do its job as an academic regulator and explained: “When you receive a failing grade from your teacher and he gives you a second opportunity to take the exam, you should prepare for it well instead of saying that the teacher is an idiot,” he said.
“BGU is now given a third chance at the exam and I think that whoever fails a third time, at the end of the day, just fails the whole course.”
He added: “If BGU won’t do what has been asked of it, the CHE is simply going to administer sanctions, I don’t see another option. The CHE, as I know it, isn’t going to give up.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.