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The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on more than just the Israeli education system up to graduating seniors; Ben Gurion University (BGU) in the Negev says its teachers will begin the semester this Sunday (Oct. 18) with two new teaching models, both of them including the use of the internet.

The Council for Higher Education has decreed that the semester is to begin with online learning, but BGU said it has invested heavily in creating classrooms to support the hybrid teaching model – where a small amount of students attend in person while others attend online.

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“The hybrid model will be implemented in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” the university said.

To that end, ninety classrooms have been outfitted with motion-sensing cameras to track the lecturer.

Online learning areas have been set up on campus as well as open air classrooms. A new “MyBGU” app is to provide students with the relevant information about their classes and grades, as well as the means to register for hybrid classes when they become available. The app is available for iOS and Android.

Research activities are not being affected, including student research, the university said.

In addition, the University inserted a “corona clause” in its dormitory rental contracts to enable students to escape their contracts without penalty, depending on the pandemic situation.

Interestingly, despite the pandemic, there has been a 12 percent increase in new students at the Be’er Sheva-based university, and a five percent increase in the overall student body, undergraduate and graduate.

It also appears the coronavirus is shaping students’ degree choices:

  • Emergency medicine has seen a 60 percent increase in registration for its undergraduate program and a 25 percent increase in its graduate program.
  • Nursing is up 50 percent.
  • Ecology and conservation are up by 150 percent.
  • Engineering is up by 30 percent (undergraduate and graduate degrees).
  • There is also a 63 percent jump in registration for the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management.
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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.