430 million shekels will fund a program with a target of doubling of the number of foreign students in Israel, from 11,000 to 24,000, Haaretz reported. It will have a focus on students from east Asia, who the council believes have a more positive view of the country than their European or American counterparts. Israel recently passed a law, tested last week, barring students with a history of BDS protest activity from the country.
The budget will be used to incentivise institutions to expand their international activity, fund scholarships for international students and support branding and marketing for the Israeli higher education system, among other activities still to be approved by the CHE, according to a spokesperson.
“Internationalisation in higher education can serve as a diplomatic tool to strengthen the ties”
“The main goal of the multi-year plan for internationalisation is to raise the academic level and the competitiveness within the Israeli higher education system,” they told The PIE News.
The CHE’s plans will focus on attracting outstanding research and MA level students, as well as BA level students, they added.
“CHE believes that internationalisation in higher education can serve as a diplomatic tool to strengthen the ties between Israel and foreign states,” the spokesperson highlighted.
“In the past few years the Israeli government has invested in tightening the relationship between Israel and far east countries (particularly China and India) in various fields, therefore tightening the academic ties with such countries matches the wider interests of the state of Israel.”
Maureen Meyer Adiri, director of international at Tel Aviv University, where close to 3,000 international students represent around 10% of the student body, explained the university’s focus is on sustaining its level of excellence.
“Although there are challenges, many of them typical for a non-English speaking country, we trust that our expertise in fields such as entrepreneurship and technology, cyber security, and sustainability are becoming ever more relevant to the world as a whole.”
Adiri added that TAU has set a target to double the number of international students, noting that the university profits from Tel Aviv’s increasingly strong global reputation.
“Our ties with China and India as well as Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, and Japan are excellent and we see these areas as having wonderful growth potential,” Adiri said, although the majority of the university’s international students are from North America.
The story of Florida-born student Lara Alqasem was widely reported, after she was detained at Ben-Gurion airport for allegedly participating in “activities and actions against the State of Israel”. She has since been released following a decision by the High Court of Justice.
Adiri suggested that Alqasem’s situation adds “complexity” to the topic of visa restrictions, but predicted it would not necessarily have many implications.
“We don’t see this having any impact on our recruiting process as a whole,” Adiri noted.