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State Rejects Ariel’s University Status as Peers Fear Its Success

Students at the Ariel University campus.

Students at the Ariel University campus.

A decision on granting Ariel University Center official university status has been delayed until at least 2013. The Planning and Budgeting Committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education recommended Wednesday to defer the decision until a comprehensive evaluation is undertaken in the next year.

In 2007, the Ariel academic center was granted temporary recognition as a so-called university center, with a decision to reexamine its status within five years.

Ariel will retain its status as a university center until a decision is made.

The list of Ariel’s accomplishments may be the very reason for its failure to achieve recognition by its peers in Israel. The center at Ariel has registered 52 patents, out which 25 were registered in 2011. Its faculty is now publishing at a rate of 31 books a year. The center has cooperation agreements with 44 universities and research facilities around the globe. And faculty members at Ariel have raised $11,300,000 for research work in 2011.

The report on the center’s progress that was submitted to the committee, composed by members of Israel’s academic establishment, praises Ariel’s accomplishments and leaves no doubt as to its ability to take its rightful place as a major academic institution.

In light of the center’s success, last month the presidents of Israel’s seven existing universities called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent the establishment of an eighth research university in Israel, citing a scarcity of resources. In a letter to Netanyahu the presidents said that an eighth university would deal a “fatal blow to the higher education system in general, and the universities in particular.”

Other public figures have opposed the upgrading of the Ariel center because it is located in Samaria. The center has faced academic boycotts in the past.

The Ariel University Center serves more than 10,000 students, both Jewish and Arab. The city of Ariel, with a population of about 20,000, is located southwest of the city of Shchem which is today under Palestinian Authority control.

JTA contributed to this report.

The list of Ariel’s accomplishments may be the very reason for its failure to achieve recognition by its peers in Israel. The center at Ariel has registered 52 patents, out which 25 were registered in 2011. Its faculty is now publishing at a rate of 31 books a year. The center has cooperation agreements with 44 universities and research facilities around the globe. And faculty members at Ariel have raised $11,300,000 for research work in 2011.

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