Israel's education system's budget will be increased by 30% and amount to a total of NIS 7.5 billion (roughly $1.9 billion) in the coming six years.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, and head of the budget and planning committee Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, announced the multiannual plan at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "This is a very exciting moment for us," said Prof. Trachtenberg, "We have been praying for this moment for many years."
The annual budget will be raised gradually, from NIS 767 million (roughly $200 million) in the first year NIS 2.3 billion (roughly $600 million) in the sixth year.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz explained the reform. "We are taking the cuts from the defense budget and putting 40% of it towards the reform in higher education," he said. "We will add NIS 1.3 billion (roughly $300 million) for higher education beyond the natural increase." He noted that the addition would not have been possible without the cut of at least NIS 3 billion ($800 million) from the defense budget's increase.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar went on to praise the State of Israel for how accessible higher education is to the general population compared to other countries around the world. He added that, as part of the reform, NIS 500 million (roughly $131 million) will be put towards making higher education more accessible to haredim and Arabs.
As for university tuition, which has been a source of conflict between students and the education system in recent months, the education minister said the sum would not be changed in the next three years. "I believe we will be able to reach an agreement before the end of this period," he said.
The finance minister added, "We hope to reach an understanding with the students in the coming months."
On Tuesday it was reported that university tuition would remain unchanged, at NIS 9,521 (roughly $2,500) per year for undergraduate studies and NIS 12,866 (roughly $3,370) per year for second degree studies.
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