Latvia says Israel revoked degrees to cut costs

June 20, 2003

Israel's supreme court is to rule on an education ministry decision to invalidate degrees awarded by the local branch of the University of Latvia.

The effect of the decision is to cancel salary benefits to its graduates who work in the civil service and elsewhere.

The decision will be challenged in a petition filed with the court. It claimed that a "wish to bring about a budgetary saving" was behind the move, which "was not based upon academic considerations". The university said it was "a recognised and respected academic institution having bilateral agreements with 47 universities in 21 countries, 100 teachers in Israel and more than 2,000 graduates, who had completed their first degrees in Israeli universities".

It denied that it sold degrees or acted without a licence.

But in a response to the petition the state attorney's office disclosed that 50 criminal indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust would be submitted against graduates of the university and that an additional 200 cases would be brought to the civil service commission for disciplinary action.

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