Israel curbs overseas universities

September 9, 2005

Foreign universities' operations in Israel have been given until next June to become Israeli institutions. Insiders say the effect of a change in the law passed by the Knesset this year may signify the end of extensions of foreign universities in Israel.

Avi Bitan, director-general of Derby University's branch in Israel, said Derby may be one of a number of such operations whose days are numbered.

"The Government (has) changed Amendment 11 of the Higher Education Council Law (enacted in 1998), in which it was decided extensions can operate in Israel with certain regulations," he said. "The new law changes one aspect: degrees will be recognised except for salary purposes."

Advanced degrees earned in Israel from foreign universities will no longer enable civil servants to be eligible for pay rises.

This is not the first time the Government has tried to clamp down on foreign university branches. In 1999, the Finance Ministry tried to tighten the law to force branches to establish a study programme identical to the parent universities if they wanted to operate in Israel. The amendment was dropped.

Derby's extension in Israel has been criticised for accepting students who fail to meet minimum academic requirements. It is one of six university extensions applying for Israeli institutional status.

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