Israeli students start new academic year amid economic difficulties

JERUSALEM, Oct. 13 — About 308,335 Israeli students commenced their academic school year on Sunday, as the higher education system fights to survive economic hardships and as students fight to finance their academic endeavors.
According to data dispensed by the Ministry of Education, some 236,770 of the students are seeking to get BA degree, 59,700 to receive MA degree and 10,650 to achieve PhD.
According to a poll conducted by the Israeli National Students Association, many of the Israeli students are struggling to make ends meet, 78 percent of the students are working, 55 percent request assistance from their parents and another 40 percent said they considered leaving their studies amid financial difficulties.
According to the survey, in which 9,628 students took part, the students work more and earn less, ask parents for support and rely on scholarships.
The survey also points out to the fact that 39 percent of the respondents live in their parents’ house because of financial hardships and that 49 percent of the students had received a scholarship for the upcoming school year, an eight percent rise from last year.
“The data show that the high costs of living for students in Israel gets worse year by year,” Uri Reshtik, Chairam of the National Students Association said in a statement following the survey.
“Unfortunately, the state does not give a proper solution. The students expect the Israeli government to understand that the Iranian issue isn’t the only critical topic on the agenda, but also the survival of the Israeli middle class and specifically the students, who are collapsing under the burden” he added.
Other than the dire economic situation of many students in particular, and the middle and lower classes in general, the system of higher education had suffered tremendously in the past decades.
In the past two decades, the system has suffered continuous cuts by the government, and wasn’t properly funded to support an expansion of the system and an increase in the amount of students.
According to the center, since 1973 the number of Israeli students doubled in comparison to the amount of professors. There are less senior members of the academic staff than there were four decades ago.
A study showed that Israel stands at the top of developed countries which suffer from its researchers and scientists moving to the United States and charges that the quality of teaching has dropped, as the institutions are outsourcing the jobs to external lecturers.
The Taub Center charges that in the past four decades, the Israeli population rose by 133 percent, the amount of students rose by 428 percent but the academic staff only rose by 40 percent.
Prof. Dan Ben David, an Israeli economist who conducted the study on behalf of the Taub Center, said the situation is worse than what the numbers seem to reflect.
“Think about the fact that these are students currently studying in Israeli academic institutes and there’s a big threat to the prospect of passing on information from one generation of researchers to the next,” he told the Ha’aretz daily.[db:内容2]