Israel's seven research universities will remain closed when the new academic year begins next month unless the Government hands over more than 350 million shekels (£44 million) that have been cut from the higher education budget over the past two years, their presidents have warned.
The decision to refuse to open for the new year was approved by the presidents of the Hebrew, Tel Aviv, Bar-Ilan, Haifa and Ben-Gurion universities, the Technion and the Weizmann Institute. Moshe Kaveh, president of Bar-Ilan University and chair of the Committee of University Heads, warned: "The universities will not be able to begin studies this year in the framework of the present budget and under the threat of another (budget) cut.
"Without an immediate refund, the universities will not be able to open their gates."
The Council for Higher Education said that 102 million shekels was cut from the budget in 2006, and an additional 65 million shekels was to be cut this year. Since 2001, the budget had been cut by more than 1 billion shekels.