Cabinet to discuss establishing universities in Ariel and Galilee (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Tamara Traubman 05/02/05)
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The government will today discuss upgrading the status of Judea and
Samaria College in Ariel and combining northern colleges into a
Galilee university. Senior officials at the Council for Higher
Education (CHE) are opposed to establishing these universities,
which they say are neither needed nor affordable with a higher
education budget slashed by some billion shekels in recent years.
The government will consider a resolution stating it "sees national
importance" in making these changes "as a lever for strengthening
the higher education system in the region."
The resolution would task Education Minister Limor Livnat
with "working to examine" establishing the universities "in
coordination with the CHE and the planning and budgeting committee,"
and reporting on progress to the government within 60 days.
College administrators predict the resolution will pass, as Likud
ministers favor turning the college in Ariel into a university, and
the Galilee university initiative has been promoted recently by Vice
Premier Shimon Peres.
Northern colleges say uniting them into a new university will
increase access to higher education and streamline work at the
existing colleges. They envision a multi-campus institution
operating at the existing colleges (Jezreel Valley, ORT Braude, Tel-
Hai, Jordan Valley, Western Galilee and Safed), and a new central
campus being established, most likely in Carmiel.
College heads have been promoting the plan for several years and
recently received a substantial boost when Peres joined the cause
and enlisted businessman Arnon Milchan, who promised to donate $100
million and wants to head the nonprofit organization in charge of
Livnat, who as education minister also chairs the CHE, is in favor
of creating both universities, and says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
also wants to upgrade the Ariel college, the largest public college
with 6,276 students enrolled this year.
"Upgrading the colleges into universities is designed to support the
settlement vision, out of a national interest of the State of
Israel," Livnat said.
However, other senior CHE officials are staunchly opposed to the
plan. The CHE, which is legally responsible for licensing new
institutions of higher education, has previously decided against
establishing another research university in the next four years.
CHE deputy chairman, Yehezkel Teller, says that new universities
would be detrimental to the existing system of institutions, which
are already reeling from budget cuts.
Housing Minister Isaac Herzog said he would vote against upgrading
the Ariel college, saying that establishing a university in
a "problematic" area would "take away precious resources that do not
meet Israel´s priorities, first and foremost the development of the
Negev and Galilee."
All of these colleges are still far from being universities: they
grant only undergraduate degrees and conduct relatively little
research, mostly aimed at developing new products, rather than the
basic research for obtaining new knowledge. (© Copyright 2005
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