“Essentially we want to open our universities to Chinese students for all fields according to their interests. We thought that they would find more interest in those fields [sciences],” he said. “But clearly, if there is interest in humanities and in social sciences, we’re very happy to open them up also to Chinese students.”
The new programme will build on a 2007 research agreement between the Israel Science Foundation and the Natural Science Foundation of China. A total of 120 grants will be available; Trajtenberg said the scheme would be part of a “five year plan” and formed in three elements.
“One is bringing to Israel and giving scholarships to post-doctorate young researchers; the second is bringing to Israel Chinese students to study undergraduate programmes and master’s programmes; and the third is a collaboration in research,” he said.
Israel, which is home to a number of world 200 universities and has around 293,000 students in higher education, could become an increasingly attractive option for the Chinese student market. Trajtenberg said the countries’ shared “tradition of learning” and “competitiveness” in education were promising.
“The Chinese people have as well, a very long tradition of putting a lot of emphasis on reaching the highest level of learning. There is a very strong competition all the time…,” he said. “Your point of reference always has to be the best in your field, not the best in your country, not the best in your university.”