Attempts by British universities to capture part of the market for first and second degrees in Israel have led the Israeli government to issue a warning to students over non-approved courses.
The latest project to attract attention concerns a bachelor of law degree being offered by Manchester University in cooperation with the Kiryat Ono municipality.
Amnon Rubinstein, minister of education, and David Libai, justice minister this week issued statements pointing out that the course, widely advertised in the Israeli press, has not been examined by the relevant committees, and that graduates cannot expect to use their qualifications for entry to local bar exams. The ministries' action appears to stem from determination to maintain quality control over degree programmes taught inside Israel rather than from protectionist motives.
The statements come after several months of increasing tension over the approval of courses run jointly by Israeli institutions and universities based in Europe and the United States. Officials at the Ministry of Education have made a point of warning prospective undergraduates to check with care the status of overseas-based degree courses before enrolment.
The hesitant expansion of tertiary education in Israel has provided opportunities for British and US universities both to advertise for students and offer accreditation for degree courses that are taught locally in Hebrew.
Birmingham, Liverpool and Staffordshire universities are all advertising for students in the Israeli press. In 1992 Israel had 900 students at British universities and polytechnics. Among US institutions, Clark University in Massachusetts has, like Manchester, become more directly involved by providing accreditation for a locally run degree programme. The ministry of education said later that if an official request for approval was made, and if the degree was the same standard as in the UK, then the Manchester course would be given full recognition.
A Manchester University spokesman emphasised the course had yet to complete the university's own approval process.
"A delegation from the university, including the chairman and secretary of the board for validation, are in Israel at the moment to finalise arrangements with the municipality. If they are happy with the arrangements, the course will go forward for approval to senate."