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Israeli Higher Education Gets Multi-Year Funding Boost

Israel is among the host of countries making research and innovation a top priority. To that end, the Council for Higher Education announced last month a six-year plan which will incrementally increase the national budget for higher education, according to the Jerusalem Post. Let’s take a closer look at the program, along with highlighting Israel’s high hopes for the future.

Stepping up on the World Stage

Israel’s Education Minister and Council for Higher Education Chairman Naftali Bennett said in a press conference, “Today, the State of Israel begins a new multi-year plan open to research and Israeli researchers, and it will ensure the continued progress and innovation of Israeli academia in the world.” Specifically, the program will aim for the creation of infrastructure for research; the integration of minority groups and the globalization of the country’s higher education system -- all toward the goal of minimizing gaps, acknowledging national priorities, and reinventing itself as an international higher education hub. Said Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, who chairs the Council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee, “The plan is designed first and foremost to establish research infrastructure and to promote excellence in scientific research to turn Israel into a world leader in research in general and in computer science and Big Data in particular.”

This kind of progress doesn’t come cheap. In 2016, Israel’s higher education budget was NIS 10b. NIA 449 million has been designated for 2017, and annual subsequent additions to the budget will bring it to NIS 12b by 2022 -- amounting to a total increase of NIS 6.8b over the same period of time., According to Zilbershats, “This is the most money being streamed into higher education since the foundation of the state.”

Bennett echoed Zilbershats’ high aspirations, “When the next Nobel Prize winner will be from Sderot and the next Fields Medal will come from Elad, when the Wolf Prize will be awarded to a researcher from Rahat and the Tel Aviv [University] Faculty of Medicine will be filled with students from the periphery, then we will know that we reached our goal, because this important institution has served its social purpose.”

International students -- particularly those pursuing advanced degrees -- will also be among the program’s beneficiaries. An additional investment of NIS 300m has been allocated to bring the number of international from 12,000 to 25,000 within five years -- more than doubling the current international enrollment.

Joanna Hughes