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Beginning of the academic year endangered in Israel

“Academic year will not begin on schedule” announced the University Heads Committee (UHC) and the representatives of the Israeli student union. The bone of contention and the possible cause for the delay in the launch of the academic year, that is supposed to start on 2 November, is a decision of the Ministry of Finance, which, for the 2009 budget decided to cut back government funding for university tuition fees from 26 to 20 percent. This de facto cancellation of the 6 percent rebate threatened to generate a 6 percent increase in individual tuition fees for students, launching an entire wave of protests. As the UHC decided against increasing tuition fees, the university heads and student representatives rallied and tried to pressure the Ministry of Finance to transfer USD 125 million to higher education – the necessary sum to cover universities’ budgetary deficit – by threatening to suspend the academic year.

After two weeks of stalemate, the talks between the universities' and students' representatives on one side, and the representatives of the Ministry of Finance, on the other side were finally renewed on 27 October, just a week before the academic year is scheduled to begin. Should they fail, this would be the third year in a row, in which the start of the academic year is delayed in Israel.