Israel's ministry of finance has dropped plans to force the 50 foreign university extensions operating in the country to comply with the academic criteria of Israel's own universities, writes Helen Flusfeder.
The ministry had sought to amend the budget to tighten up the 1998 Higher Education Law, which already requires foreign university branches to establish a study programme identical to their parent universities if they want to operate in Israel.
But even though the amendment has been dropped the authorities still intend to ensure institutions comply with Israeli academic standards. Several university extensions have already been involved in disputes with Israel's Council for Higher Education. They include Inter College, the University of Derby's franchise partner in Israel. Inter College was denied a licence by the council until it proved that it met the council's requirements. The council is still due to review the case next month.
Nehemia Levtzion, chair of the council's planning and budget committee, said the proposal to introduce the amendment through the budget law was withdrawn on legal advice because of procedural difficulties, not because of protests from the university extensions or political pressure.
The council hoped existing legislation would be sufficient to regulate the operation of foreign extensions, and there would be no change to procedures or timetable, he said.
"Foreign extensions must be aware of the concern of the government that academic studies must meet standards similar to those in Israel. We hope to set those standards through amendment 11 (of the 1998 legislation)," he added.