Israeli bid to widen access falters at first hurdle

January 16, 2004

Israel's universities have returned to psychometric testing after a year using an admissions system aimed at encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

An evaluation of the system found it was not used by the students for whom it was designed.

Ya'akov Katz, chair of the pedagogic secretariat of the education ministry, said universities would revert to the system based on the Bagrut (matriculation) examination and psychometric testing.

Until 2003-04, would-be university students were required to earn a full matriculation of 21 units, including four units of English and three units of maths, and to have passed the psychometric test.

In May 2002, an admissions law allowed students to be evaluated by the compound results of four key subjects in their Bagrut examinations: English, maths, history and science.

But researchers found students from the higher echelons of Israeli society and Arab students benefited most from the system.

"Seventy per cent of the students used the psychometric exams and not the four subjects, and the 30 per cent who did, did not come from the low socioeconomic sectors at whom the plan was aimed," Professor Katz said.

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