Ariel college becomes a university (JERUSALEM POST) By TALYA HALKIN AND JPOST STAFF 05/02/05)
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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
"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
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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