Israel's Association of Secondary School Teachers has struck a controversial deal with Derby University to supervise teachers wanting to do a further degree at the British university's local extension college.
The daily Ha'aretz reported that the association has used some SHK5 million (Pounds 836,000) from an agreement with the ministry of education on wages and conditions to provide scholarships for teachers wanting to take graduate degrees at the subsidiary. The teachers have to do their degrees in education, rather than in their areas of specialisation.
After considering local schools of education and universities, ASSTI decided to make a deal with Derby University.
But the fact that the university was ranked 87th on a British league table of 96 universities published in The Times in 1997 has raised the hackles of many educationists.
The deal is expected to bring the University of Derby's local branch 1,000 students over the next year, each paying SHK$6,200.
The decision has fuelled debate as to the validity of local branches of foreign universities in Israel. The newspaper asked why ASSTI chose an allegedly third-rate university after spurning Israeli universities.
It also queried why the teachers had to specialise in education and why the state is channelling millions of shekels into the pockets of a few Israeli businessmen and a British university.