In 2001, the Interdisciplinary Center, a small private college in Herzliya, inaugurated a new era in Israeli higher education by offering the country's first bachelor's degree taught entirely in English.For decades, Israeli universities have offered semester, one-year and summer study abroad programs for English-speaking students from around the world, but the Interdisciplinary Center, popularly known as IDC, started a trend that is now being duplicated at universities across Israel.
Israeli universities are now investing their energies in internationalization, says Prof. David Newman, dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.Universities now understand that they have to promote an international profile which focuses on research and full degree programs. Teaching an entire undergraduate course in English is seen as one way of bringing serious students from abroad.
Today, some 25 percent of the 5,000 students at IDC come from abroad. The Raphael Recanati International School at IDC offers undergraduate degree courses in business administration, government, communications and psychology as well as master's degree programs in government, business administration and organizational behavior and development.That makes up close to 1,100 students from 60 different countries all studying for degrees and all taught in English," says Jonathan Davis, IDC vice president and head of the Recanati International School. "That sets and creates a very special atmosphere on this campus. For years, there were many individuals overseas who wanted to come and study in Israel and do a full degree, but because of their lack of knowledge of Hebrew, they couldn't do that.A large percentage of our faculty comes from some of the top universities in the world, and there's a tremendous added value to being in an atmosphere where you have students from so many different countries, says Davis.
Master's programs taught in English:
English-language master's of business administration (MBA) programs are available at a number of Israeli colleges, including Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv University which also offers master's programs in Middle Eastern history; teaching English to speakers of other languages; and conflict resolution and mediation.
The University of Haifa also offers an MBA taught in English and plans to increase its annual enrollment of foreign students to 3,000 within five years by launching 20 new international master's programs and strengthening the existing University of Haifa International School.Among the new international MA programs, Haifa is offering graduate degrees in global law; peace and conflict management; creative art therapies; applied child development; Holocaust studies; and interdisciplinary programs in marine sciences.In 2008, Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Science switched the language of instruction for its MBA to English for all students. The Technion American Medical School offers a full four-year medical degree for overseas students. Its International School of Engineering, founded in 2009, offers bachelor of science programs in civil engineering and water resources as well as environmental engineering, and master's degrees in environmental engineering and structural engineering.
Tuitions attractive to overseas students:
This fall, Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan will welcome its first class of students for a BA in interdisciplinary social sciences taught in English. The university offers graduate programs in English in linguistics, clinical research and creative writing, and an international MBA.The university is home to about 400 English-speakers. The campus dormitories and surrounding neighborhoods Ramat Gan, Ramat Amidar and Givat Shmuel are teeming with English-speaking students, as well as alumni who still consider Bar-Ilan their home, notes Rachel Sarafraz, Student Union coordinator of activities for BarIlan's large English-speaking community.Other major universities are expected to follow Bar-Ilan's example. With fees for overseas students at Bar-Ilan set at just $7,500 a year, a decision by Israeli universities to offer a broad range of first-degree courses to English-speaking students could prove an attractive alternative for students faced with rising tuition costs at their home country's universities.
Ben-Gurion University has established a wide variety of international programs for studying in English offered to foreign students. They include an international MD program at the medical school taught jointly with Columbia University in New York, and graduate degrees in linguistics, literature, communications, Middle East studies, mathematics and the politics of conflict.Foreign students can join Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian classmates for graduate degree programs at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem offers a wide range of MA programs in specialized fields including biblical and Jewish studies. Courses include the Bible and the ancient Near East; religion, Islamic and Middle Eastern studies; Jewish education; Israeli society and politics; and community leadership and philanthropy studies.The Hebrew University has a number of graduate programs that offer practical skills for work in the developing world and society. They include master of science degrees in plant sciences and nutritional sciences at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment in Rehovot and an international master of public health program taught at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical center since 1970.
In fall 2011, the university's Federmann School of Public Policy and Government will launch its global community development studies a new MA program taught in English designed to teach volunteers and professionals working to assist impoverished communities across the world. A new LLM degree in human rights and international law will also be introduced in the coming academic year.At the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the Feingold Graduate School offers graduate programs leading to master of science and PhD degrees in five major fields of study: physical sciences, chemical sciences, life sciences, mathematics and computer science and science teaching all available to English-speaking graduate students.