After Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz promised that he would add NIS 50 ($12.7 million) to universities' budgets in order to enable the upgrading of Ariel College to university status, on Sunday Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced that he also supports a change in the educational institution's status.
"In light of the conclusions of the inspection committee I support the completion of the change in status of the institution from Ariel University Center of Samaria to university," the minister wrote in a letter to Professor Amos Altshuler the Chairman of the Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council (the organization which is set to make the decision on Tuesday).
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According to Sa'ar the approval would "suit the policy which was outlined in a cabinet decision on the matter over seven years ago."
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Sa'ar's statements are in complete contrast to the recommendation made by the Higher Education Council's planning and budget committee that believes that the decision should be deferred to next year. The education minister explained that the two conditions he presented were fulfilled and so there is nothing to prevent recognition as a university.
Sa'ar addressed Steinitz's earlier statements and said: "There is enough (in them) to alleviate concerns which certain sources did their best to inflame, as if establishing an eighth university would harm the existing university budgets."
Earlier Sunday Steinitz sent the education minister a letter in which he promised to transfer a budget bonus to the universities.
"As I've made clear in the past, if and when the center is recognized by the authorized organizations as a university it is my intention to pass a special budgetary outline before the cabinet which will begin with an allocation of NIS 20 million ($5 million) and NIS 30 million ($7.6 million) in the 2013-2014 budget and which would increase over a number of years," he told Ynet.
The letter was sent to the education minister on the day that the arrangement anchoring the status of the academic institution in Ariel as a university center was set to expire.
Steinitz called the change in the center's status as "a historic move that would contribute a great deal to the academia in Israel and would even have an important contribution to culture, economy, society and the strengthening of Ariel."
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