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Ariel college becomes a university (JERUSALEM POST) By TALYA HALKIN AND JPOST STAFF 05/02/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1114913918418 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The government on Monday approved upgrading the status of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel from a college to a university by a 13-7 margin.

In addition, ministers unanimously approved establishing a university in the Galilee, which will be aided by a $100 million dollar donation by businessman Arnon Milchan.

The vote regarding the Judea and Samaria College stirred a fierce debate between Likud ministers and their Labor counterparts, who all voted against the change, except Minister Dalia Itzik who abstained.

Housing Minister Yitzhak Herzog said changing the status of the college would only harm Israeli efforts in the international academic arena. "It is a political act, not a social-educational decision," he said.

Another Labor minister, Ophir Paz-Pines, said the idea to link the status change in Ariel to the establishment of a university in the Galilee was an attempt to create an unnecessary political balance.

Likud Minister Dani Naveh attacked Labor ministers: "I thought Ariel was in the consensus, but Labor obviously demonstrated otherwise, showing it is willing to abandon Ariel."

Education Minister Limor Livnat congratulated the government Monday on its decision to approve the conversion of the Ariel College into a university and to found a new university in the Galilee.

"Both these institutions will contribute to the development of higher education in Israel and strengthen settlement clusters in Judea, Samaria, and the Galilee," Livnat said.

According to Ariel College President Professor Dan Meyerstein, the college – which was founded in 1982 -- currently numbers 7000 students from all sectors of the Israeli population, and is the largest public college in Israel.

Meyestein told the Jerusalem Post he feels the government decision "Was a big step forward," and that it is time that Israel had a new university.

On Sunday, Herzog called on cabinet ministers to vote against the proposal.

"What is at stake is a distorted set of priorities which will detract from funds for developing the Negev and Galilee – two regions that have been overlooked for years," Herzog said.

"At a time during which the Israeli higher education system is in a state of crisis, it seems this move has been put in motion in order to serve political, rather than social, needs."

The proposal submitted to government members prior to Monday´s vote read, "The government considers the conversion of the academic college in Judea and Samaria into a university to be of national importance, and considers it an impetus to bolstering the region´s higher education system."

The proposal, initiated by Education Minister Limor Livnat, also argued that the conversion of the college into a university would attract new populations to the region.

The proposal assigns Livnat, in her capacity as chair of the Council for Higher Education, the role of examining the academic, budgetary, and other aspects of the proposal and reporting back to the government within 60 days.

Livnat announced Sunday that her goal was to "develop higher education in Israel, taking into consideration the State of Israel´s national interests, and supporting the settlements in Judea, Samaria, and the Galilee."

Livnat said that the proposal was also related to what she called "the agreements between the US and Israel concerning the strengthening of the settlement clusters of Ariel, Etzyon, and Ma´ale Adumim."

She compared the conversion of Ariel College into a university to the foundation of Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, and noted that the proposal was supported by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (© 1995- 2005, The Jerusalem Post 05/02/05)

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