The Council of Higher Education recently decided to open new study tracks that will allow haredi students to pursue academic degrees in engineering, exact sciences, optometry, banking, architecture and arts.
The reform aims to give the haredi public access to the academia, with the goal of doubling the number of haredi students from 6,000 to 12,000 by 2017. The reform, which will be supported by a budget of some NIS 180 million (about $45 million), was initiated by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and Chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg.
Today, only three haredi colleges operate in Israel, offering study programs in social work, law, education, accounting and logistics.
In its latest meeting, the Council decided to open 10 academic tracks geared specifically to haredi students in different campuses across Israel, including the Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University and Haifa's Technion. The programs will offer separate facilities for men and women and are slated to open in the beginning of the upcoming school year.
Dr. Avshalom Danoch, the head of the haredi program at Sami Shimon College in Ashdod said that the students will undergo a one year preparatory course that will qualify them for academic studies of math, physics and English.
"During the past year we've run a pilot to test the program and we found that these students have immense motivation, at times higher than that of the regular public," Dr. Danoch said, adding that "in personal conversations, they tell us that if in the past their only dream was to excel in their Torah studies, today they also dream about being engineers and earning a nice salary."