Israel snubs private school

January 23, 2004

Israel's Council for Higher Education has refused to grant a licence for Israel's first private medical school.

The plan for a private school originated in a 1990s report by Amnon Pazy, former chairman of the council's planning and budgeting committee, which confirmed a need for more doctors by 2020. Shachar, a non-profit organisation, submitted a proposal for the medical school.

Haim Eliash, Shachar general manager, said the aim was to create the Ashkelon Medical School with the support of the medical school of Poland's University of Gdansk. Students would spend three pre-clinical years in Israel with classes taught in Hebrew and English, and three years in Gdansk.

Funding for the school was to come from a group of Australian Jewish businessmen.

But the proposal sparked opposition from many senior medical professionals, including the heads of all four of Israel's existing medical schools.

"The opening of a branch in Israel of a medical school from Eastern Europe would be an embarrassment to higher education in Israel," said Avram Hershko, a member of the faculty of medicine at Technion - Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The council said that it had postponed the request for a licence, but Mr Eliash felt that the real reason was that the council was afraid that "many others will follow".

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