The number of Israeli students attending accredited universities and colleges rose by 2.1% in the academic year 2008-2009, reaching 269,262. The growth rate has slowed to less than 4% annually in the last decade, compared to 8% a year in the 1990s, when higher education became more accessible to the general public. There are 65 institutions of higher learning in Israel. Of the 225,982 students registered in state and public colleges, 171,600 (75.9%) are at the undergraduate level. Post-graduate students taking masters’ degrees numbered 43,184 (19.1%) of the student body. PhD students numbered 10,272 (4.5%) of the student body. The total excludes the 45,920 students studying at the Open University and the 926 non-degree diploma students. The Council for Higher Education accredits all new institutions and programs and authorizes them to award academic degrees.
The growing number of students entering private colleges has changed the landscape of the Israeli higher education system. The growth in the student population has led to the establishment of new colleges to meet demand. These universities are accredited and must offer the same standard of education provided by state universities. Undergraduate students are entering these institutions in ever-increasing numbers (53.7% of all undergraduate students in 2008/9), thereby allowing the eight universities to focus more on graduate and research level studies. Today, institutions of higher education in Israel include 8 universities, 8 regional colleges associated with universities, 23 other regional colleges, 22 teacher training colleges, 12 institutions that offer a diploma recognized by the Ministry of Education, 11 art schools, and 59 technological colleges. In 2009, revenues of the top 20 local universities and community colleges exceeded $2 billion.
Best prospects for U.S. educational institutions are to offer a degree integrated with practical work experience. According to 2008 statistics, a total of 25,000 Israelis requested information and showed interest in study programs in the U.S. In 2008/9 there were 3,060 Israeli students studying in the United States; 1,055 under-graduate, 1,593 graduate and 412 other.
Courses of Study
Israeli students typically apply to U.S. universities for fields of study that are not offered in Israel. Such fields include hotel administration, advertising, arts and therapy law. Additionally, many Israeli students apply to degree programs in psychology, medicine, veterinary medicine and engineering. Short-term or non-degree programs applied to by Israeli students largely include English language, culinary arts, sound engineering, jazz or acting, architecture and institutions offering sports scholarships.
Other popular majors for Israeli students in the U.S. include business administration, law, clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, culinary arts, film, music, video editing, advertising, East Asian studies, international relations, computer sciences, engineering, architecture, social work, mass communications, pre-med, and life sciences. Increasingly popular are ecology, environmental sciences, make-up artistry, image consulting, drug and substance abuse counseling, and expressive therapies.
Exchange Programs and Cooperative Agreements
In recent years there has been a growing trend by US schools to sign cooperative agreements with selected Israeli universities and colleges in an effort to attract graduate and post doctoral students to their institutions and to work on collaborative research and development projects in areas of common interest.
Today, attention in Israel has turned to secondary study and relevant accreditation, be it degree, diploma or certificate. Israelis are looking to broaden their horizons both professionally and personally and are investigating opportunities to study overseas. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), almost 3000 Israeli students took the GMAT in the academic year 2008-2009, more than double from 10 years ago. Even more impressively, Israel has the highest number of GMAT takers per capita of any country in the world, and provides the seventh largest number of takers of any country in the world, ahead of France and Germany.