Edition 214 - February 2019

Israel tries to boost its appeal towards international students, among academics’ scepticism

Since the number of international students choosing Israel as a destination country has constantly decreased, the Council for Higher Education (CHE) - the body responsible for managing the higher education system in Israel - announced a series of reforms aiming at doubling the number of international students by 2022

The Council has recently approved a budget of EUR 106 million (NIS 435 million) in order to increase the number of international students in Israel to 24 000 by 2022. The budget will be allocated as follows: EUR 24 million (NIS 100 million) to postdoctoral fellowships; EUR 24 million (NIS 100 million) to enhancing university infrastructures and programmes, including fostering English-taught courses, and some of the budget will fund new scholarship programmes. The new CHE multi-year plan targets in particular two types of international students: research students, with a special focus on China and India, and Jewish students, mainly from the US and Canada.

With this move, Israel aims at improving the quality of its higher education system while trying to build economic and political relations with key partner countries. However, academics are sceptical about the feasibility of the plan, as reported by LSE professor of international relations, Fawaz Gerges, and by the founding director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, Philip Altbach. The main reasons, as easily predictable, lie in the instability of the region - and the negative reputation gained by Israel with the occupation of Palestinian territories - and in the related international boycott movement.  

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