The Council for Higher Education in Israel has authorized the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) to award PhD degrees. The Interdisciplinary Center will be the first college in Israel to obtain such authorization, which will eliminate the distinction between it and the universities. Minister of Education Naftali Bennett supported the decision, and made strenuous efforts in recent days on its behalf, despite opposition from the universities, which are afraid of competition and disrespect for doctorates. Bennett himself attended the meeting, a very unusual step for him, in order to voice his opinion.
A Council for Higher Education subcommittee approved authorization for the Interdisciplinary Center three weeks ago, and today's meeting was designated for approving this decision. The institution will now be assessed by an international committee, which will check whether it meets various criteria, and what must be improved.
The state does not fund the Interdisciplinary Center through the higher education planning and budgeting committee, and it will not receive funds even if it is a private university. At the same time, the Council for Higher Education supervises it at the academic level.
The vote constitutes final approval of the subcommittee's decision and referral of the process for approval by an international committee to assess the Interdisciplinary Center according to the criteria expected of institutions that award doctorates, such as the number of professors at the institution.
At this stage the Council for Higher Education has approved a request for opening a PhD program in law. The Interdisciplinary Center submitted its doctoral program in law in January 2016. The request was carefully examined and brought to the Council for Higher Education for discussion only after it was determined that it met all the threshold conditions. If the international committee's examination and opinion are positive, the Interdisciplinary Center can begin operating its doctoral program in law.
Bennett said, "We are making history today - we will allow the opening of a doctoral track at a private college in Israel for the first time. This is good news for the academic world and students. After a decade of foot-dragging, we have made a good decision that will diversify academic research and expand educational possibilities for students. Opening the world of research to additional institutions will also enhance research at the universities, encourage more brilliant and excellent brains to continue on to advanced degrees, and lead to a quantum leap in the quality of academic research in Israel."
The Israel Association of University Heads said, "The decision is a mistaken one that only strengthens the elite and closed club of the Interdisciplinary Center for reasons of ego and prestige, at the expense of promoting important research in Israel."
National Union of Israeli Students chairperson Ram Shefa said, "It is important to set the record straight - the Interdisciplinary Center has not become a university. This is essential knowledge for young people liable to get wrong information from reports. The Interdisciplinary Center has been proving its many qualities for years in many areas, and the Council for Higher Education today decided to give it the right to award advanced degrees. At the same time, the system lacks long-term planning on fundamental matters that distinguish between the universities and a college in Israel. This can turn into an avalanche, and the regulator will have to intervene."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 21, 2018
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