Between 2019 to 2020, approximately —3000 students from North America chose to study in Israel, making them 23% of all international students. The question to be asked is why young adults choose to continue their higher education studies in Israel when North America offers competitive and prestigious degree programs.
A closer look into Israel's international programs in recent years reveals the impact of academic excellence led by award-winning faculty members, pioneering minds, and uniquely innovative attitude alongside a prosperous hi-tech industry scene. According to tecaviv, Israel has more unicorns per capita than any other country. If in the past Jewish heritage was the deciding factor for Jewish American students to study in Israel, today there is a growing post-study career incentive positively affecting their choice.
Following her MBA degree at the Hebrew University, Alison, from New York, landed a job at OrCam Tec in Jerusalem as a product manager for the past three years.
“Not only were we learning in the classroom but we also had the experience of meeting with companies and entrepreneurs in the Israeli startup and high-tech ecosystem ... My MBA felt like I got five years of working experience.”
Referring to her first steps in her career path, she adds:
“A lot of my friends graduated from college and went straight to the workforce. Most of them didn't enjoy their first job […] On the contrary, I was in Israel, learning, growing and networking. I was getting experience and learning with people who were older and had more work experience... Through my classwork and hands-on experiences, I was doing things that made an impact. Regarding my job that I have today, I was introduced to the company during my MBA at the Hebrew University. The VP of R&D of our company spoke to our class and that is how I built my connection.”
These features are part of the DNA of entrepreneurship and innovation programs that equip their students with skills relevant for today’s workplace, encouraging them to put them to use early in their studies.
As part of my studies, I've been able to work closely with start-ups that asked for our services […]; for instance, there was a digital market campaign I built for a start-up… I'm going to start working with a start-up once they've got a "go-to" market strategy, help them expand their business.
Jonathan, a third year Bachelor’s degree student at Reichman University (former IDC Herzliya), also expressed the ongoing connection between academia and industry:
A lot of companies just want to come and have students work with them, so I think in general, if it's like working with start-ups or big marketing and finance businesses; You have the opportunity to do all of it.
Israel's post-graduate career opportunities are more global than they once were, explaining why many students’ academic experiences, especially in the MBA and STEM programs, focus on the career opportunities they encountered during their studies in Israel. While doing so, they do not refrain from comparing them to similar programs in the US. Jonathan describes his decision process stating:
“A few factors lead me to my decision of study here. First being that pretty much a whole degree in Israel is like one-year tuition in the states, so financially it made more sense here. Secondly, the entrepreneurship mentality. I think that’s a nice touch to have the Israeli side of things, like if you are not studying in Silicon Valley and paying $ 50,000 you know then you’re kind of getting just a general kind of education. […] Thirdly, Israel in general is a really fun place to live. I prefer spending my twenties here, I feel like there is more life, there is more things to do.”
As for the academic level, Allison added:
“A lot of the professors all had experience teaching in America, they all came from top-tier universities where they got their PhD's or had experience teaching like in U Chicago, Harvard... and other Ivy Leagues.”
Israel stands out for Jewish students as a global player in the Hi-tech scene. Israel is no longer only a rite of passage for the Jewish young adult’s discovery of heritage and culture. It is also a destination for career building and gaining tools for 21st century pursuits.
This article was written in conjunction with The Israel Council for Higher Education