Israel aims to double international student numbers at its universities
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Israel aims to double international student numbers at its universities

Israel aims to double international student numbers at its universities

Israel may not be at the top of many international students’ minds as a study abroad destination, but a new initiative hopes to reverse that.

The Council for Higher Education in Israel (CHE) recently launched Study in Israel, a national initiative that seeks to double its international student numbers across Israeli higher education institutions.

The country is initially targeting students in North America, China and India, said the Jewish Syndicate News.

As many as 12,000 international students are currently studying in Israel.

“The programme touts dozens of short-term and longer study programmes associated with high Israeli academic standards and an engaged approach to education with the theme ‘Engage in Excellence,’ highlighting the country’s innovative academic and research landscape as part of the startup nation,” notes the report.

“We have committed to making Israel a ‘brain gain’ country for students and researchers from around the world – North and South America, Europe and Asia,” said Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, Chair of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC).

“With this new campaign, Israel is now more attractive than ever; we’re looking forward to bringing many more students from around the globe in years to come.”

Becoming a magnet for international students

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Last year, CHE reported that in the last decade, the number of Arab students in Israel has doubled. Source: Shutterstock

As part of their efforts to attract a higher volume of international students, CHE is expanding its bilingual Hebrew and English academic programmes, running them in parallel to each other.

Professor Yaffa said: “[The] Expansion of English language study programmes and their implementation alongside Hebrew language study programmes will encourage excelling international students to come to Israel for full and partial degrees. 

“This process will deepen the reciprocal relationships between institutions in Israel and those abroad and will reinforce Israel’s international reputation around the world.”

The goal is to have approximately 24,000 international students studying in Israel by 2022 – a huge leap compared to the 11,000 international students who studied in the country in 2017. In February, CHE and PBC announced that NIS435 million (US$123 million) will be allocated to the investment.

Obstacles 

PBC data found that the proportion of international students studying in Israel is approximately 1.4 percent – significantly lower than the average in OECD countries, which is approximately six percent. 

They note that the low number of international students stems from various factors, including language difficulties, as the mode of instruction at most universities is in Hebrew.

They also highlight political obstacles, such as visas and work permits for spouses, which contribute to delaying the ability to open the gates of these institutions to international students. 

“Currently, the staff of the CHE and the PBC are working to remove obstacles vis-à-vis the relevant entities within various governmental ministries,” it said.

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