In an exclusive interview with Global Education Times, Israel Council for Higher Education’s Professor Yaffa Zilbershats has underlined its commitment to making Israel a top study abroad destination.
Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, Chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee at the Israel Council for Higher Education (CHE), told GET News about the council’s intention to turn Israel into a destination for international students.
Earlier this month, Global Education Times reported the CHE’s intent is to double foreign student numbers from 12,000 (current) to 24,000 as part of its Study in Israel initiative.
Prof Zilbershats stated that the reason for this is that: “Research in Israel is very international – Israeli faculty members do post-doctorate fellowships abroad, participate in international research programs and infrastructure and engage in research collaborations with leading scholars from around the world.”
Despite its research position, Prof Zilbershats states that, “until now, Israel has not been a destination for international students or scholars. We are committed to making Israel a brain gain country for excellent students and researchers from around the world – North and South America, Europe, and Asia.”
It is for this reason that the council are intending to double international student numbers by 2022.
Israel universities and colleges can access funding to help drive international recruitment
In order to achieve this goal, the Council have allocated over 100 million NIS (approximately $30 million) in order to advance the internationalisation in public higher education institutions in Israel.
Prof Zilbershats said: “The funding is being used in the universities and colleges to develop capacity and infrastructure for international activity, marketing and recruitment, scholarships, develop new study programs, advance strategic partnerships with leading universities around the world and more.
“The universities, as well as two of the colleges, are quite prepared for the project, so they will receive additional funds. The other institutions will get money to build their strategy and capacity to be eligible to absorb international students.”
North America, China and India are key targets in Israeli recruitment
As part of their recruitment drive, the CHE will be specifically targeting North America, China and India.
The reason for this is behind the trends of the global market of international students, as well as analysing the relative advantages of Israel as a market for higher education.
Prof Zilbershats said: “In terms of the global market, the data shows that East Asia is the largest exporter of international students.
“Israel already has a large number of students and post-doctorates from China and India – a trend that has grown in recent years due in large part to CHE/PBC programs to promote academic ties between the countries.
“It is also important to note that in Asia, and in particular China and India, Israel has a very positive image, and is associated with values of innovation and excellence.
“North America is home to some of the best universities worldwide, and therefore based on our goal to attract high-quality students, we are focusing on this region.
“Another target group for which Israel has a relative advantage is the Jewish population around the world, which more likely to think of Israel as one of the destinations for academic studies abroad and about 72% of world Jewry outside Israel live in North America.”
The conclusions the CHE have drawn are based on professional work done by IIE (Institute of International Education).
The drive for increased student recruitment will operate at both a university and national level. Every HEI in the country will be engaged in student recruitment.
“At a national level,” Prof Zilbershats added, “we have developed a brand framework which highlights the added value of academia in Israel and the benefits for international students studying in Israel, which our universities can use.
“The CHE will coordinate the HEIs on a number of focused marketing efforts, e.g. conferences such as NAFSA, as well as through the Study in Israel website and social media pages, which provide information on Israeli higher education and study programs in English. The CHE will also assist with issues of visas and working permits.”
Regulations on English taught programs to be relaxed to help Israel drive study abroad recruitment
Of course, the internationalisation of Israeli higher education will likely see demand surge for education in English and, in order to not allow the recruitment drive to be impeded by this, Prof Zilbershats told that the CHE has updated and eased its regulations on English taught programs, in order to enable HEIs to introduce more programs.
“We also recently authorised 26 new English-taught degree programs in a range of fields which Israel is globally recognized including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Jewish and Middle Eastern Studies, Agriculture, Urban Studies, Environmental Studies and Design.”
Ultimately, Israel needs to be attractive in order to encourage international study abroad student numbers to rise.
Prof Zilbershats describes Israel as “a dynamic and diverse country, rich in history and culture, and celebrated for world-class academics and research. We offer internationally renowned universities, Nobel-winning faculty, and rigorous programs of study in English.
“Here, faculty encourage students to discover, debate, and collaborate – in an academic environment driven by the entrepreneurial and innovative energy of the world’s “Start-Up Nation.”
“Moreover, study in Israel is affordable, often costing less than study elsewhere.”
Pic: Adam Jang
Hari is the Managing Editor of Global Education Times. Hari has clocked nearly a decade working as a communications professional with a focus on the education sector. He has also had stints in journalism and advertising in a career which has seen him live, study, and work, in three countries.
You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org