With only 1.4% of its current student population considered to be international, Israel has a long way to go to rival trailblazers like Australia, but its intentions could make some impact, given its promise of significant scholarship funding to attract talented scholars.
“The fact is that Israel is an outstanding education destination”
The other challenge – that most of its higher ed programs are delivered in Hebrew – will also be addressed, according to the Council for Higher Education.
“In order to increase the numbers, many of the institutions plan to make changes to their infrastructure and programs to better attract and accommodate outstanding students from around the world,” it announced.
While there appears to be some focus on Masters level and post-Masters level students, the strategy does indicate a desire to boost intake at all study levels, including summer courses and study abroad programs.
Scholarship funding is aimed at the top level of tertiary. Marissa Gross Yarm at the Strategy and International Affairs Department of CHE told The PIE News, “We currently have scholarships for post-docs from North America in STEM, post-docs from China and India, and doctoral students from all over the world.”
According to David Adler, CEO of education agency Ustudy Global – which has an office in Israel – the plan to promote Israel could pay off.
“If I ignore the political aspects that led to the decision to invest in recruiting international students, the fact is that Israel is an outstanding education destination,” he said.
“Academically, the universities are leading in [areas of] research. Business-wise, some of the world’s top tech companies started and are still operating here (Wix, Waze). And the lifestyle in terms of weather, outdoor activities, safety, food and nightlife is just outstanding.”
The CHE noted that it has started working with various government ministries to remove many of the “bureaucratic obstacles that made studying in Israel difficult for international students”.
It cited visas and work permits for spouses as among those obstacles.
There are currently 11,000 international students, and the stated goal is to achieve 24,000 enrolments by 2022.
Yaffa Zilbershats, chair of CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee said, “The CHE is committed to turning Israel into a magnet for outstanding students from countries around the world.”
She acknowledged that the focus “is primarily on research students and master’s degree students but includes bachelor’s degree students as well”.
Outbound efforts are also being stepped up. Zilbershats noted, “Similarly, we will encourage Israeli students to enrol in overseas study and internship programs and thus encourage reciprocal relationships which will greatly enrich the academic quality in Israel and enhance Israel’s international reputation.”