Dire straits. Tamir
Photo: Yaron Brener
Students protest (Archive photo)
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Strike looms over new academic year

Committee for Higher Education in Israel, academic staff, students warn that unless government funnels emergency budget to universities, next academic year may not be launched

Should the government fail to implement the recommendations of the Shochat Committee for reform in higher education, the universities may not launch the next academic year – that was the conclusion of an emergency meeting held Sunday by the Committee for Higher Education in Israel (CHEI).


The Shochat Committee was formed in 2006 to review the dire situation of Israel's academia and higher education system. The committee presented the government with its recommendations in mid-2007, but since then – and despite Education Minister Yuli Tamir filing several amendments to the reform in order to make it easier to digest by the various government bureaus – no real discussion has been held on the matter.


The meeting, attended by Tamir, members of the CHEI, universities, colleges, academic staff and student unions' representatives, ended with a warning that "due to the grave situation of the higher education system in Israel, and faced with the imminent danger looming over it, it is clear that under these conditions there is no way to launch the new academic year.


"All elements of the higher education system must consider declaring a strike, unless a comprehensive change (in the government's stance) takes place in the next two weeks."


All those attending the meeting urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On to order the immediate implementation of the Shochat Reform and funnel NIS 1.8 billion (approx. $556 million) – over the next five years – in favor of higher education.


"If we have no funding we cannot launch the next (academic) school year. The higher education system can't afford to wait for next year, it needs a solution to be found right now," Tamir told Ynet.


Boaz Toporovsky, head of the National Students' Union added that "the only thing everyone (in the meeting) agreed on was that we urgently need more funding. The Finance Ministry is run by a group of children who are holding higher education in Israel hostage until they get they want – the privatization of higher education."


פרסום ראשון: 06.01.08, 19:48
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