COVID-19: Israel to reopen borders for foreign students

COVID-19: Israel to reopen borders for foreign students

Israel has announced plans to reopen its borders to foreign students despite COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The government of Israel recently announced that it will allow international students to enter the country to kick off their university studies of the academic year 2020-2021.

The announcement comes at a time when due to COVID-19 the borders of Israel had been sealed. 

All non-Israelis were banned from entering the country in mid-March and since then higher officials from the Education Council, Health and Foreign ministries, and the Population and Immigration Authority, have been working to find a solution to the issue.

When the international students arrive, their academic institutions will have to ensure that the students go into a strict quarantine in accordance with the Health Ministry’s guidelines.

CHE supportive of Israel plan to welcome foreign students

The Council for Higher Education (CHE) in Israel, which is the supervisory body for universities and colleges in the country, has been highly supportive of these measures citing the importance of international students to the country’s higher education institutions.

Speaking exclusively to Global Education Times, Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, Chair of the Planning & Budgeting Committee at CHE, explained how CHE worked closely with the Israel government and universities to make this decision possible.

Prof Zilbershats told GET News: “Since the decision was made to close the borders, the Council for Higher Education has been in close contact with the relevant ministries: Ministry of Health, Population and Immigration Bureau, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to ensure that international student were taken into consideration; advancing the importance of international students to Israeli academia and Israel as a whole, providing data, and liaising with the Ministry of Health on isolation conditions in the universities.”

As government expectations are for safety measures to be put in place at campuses for students, Prof Zilbershats clarified what support foreign students will receive in Israel.

“Throughout the pandemic, the higher education institutions have placed the health and safety of their students as first priority. Support systems have been set up to aid students with all of their needs – wellbeing, health and academic as well.

“All international students are required to acquire health insurance in Israel and will of course have access to medical support if they contract COVID-19 (which we hope does not happen)!”

Prof Zilbershats also noted that, despite the Coronavirus pandemic, CHE expected continued demand for Study in Israel.

“We understand from the academic institutions that demand is actually higher than expected, and there is large enrolment. Applications are still being accepted at many of the institutions and we hope to see increased numbers despite the pandemic.”

Israeli HEIs putting measures in place for students

Collectively, many Israeli universities are organising flights to bring their current and new PhD and post-doctoral fellow students back into the country.

Previously these students were unable to travel as flights had been grounded. 

Universities are yet to confirm if there would be online classes or face to face classes, but the likelihood is there would be a blend of both in education delivery.

Pic: Ethan McArthur

Zahra Hamdani - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Zahra Hamdani is an Ireland-based reporter for Global Education Times who focuses on European and South Asian education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Zahra is a school-teacher and educationist with experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Pakistan.

You can reach Zahra at zahra@globaleducationtimes.org

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