Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASh90
Israeli Arab student (archive).

New data from Tel Aviv University indicate that the number of Arab students in the most prestigious undergraduate hi-tech programs – Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – has doubled between 2016 and 2020: 459 (including 150 women) in 2020, compared to only 237 (including 59 women) in 2016.

TAU stressed that this growth resulted from efforts to raise awareness of the hi-tech disciplines in the Arab population, and without any affirmative action regarding admission requirements.

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An analysis of the data shows that in 2020, 307 Arab students (18%, equal to the percentage of Arabs in Israeli society) attended the School of Electrical Engineering, compared to 136 (about 9%) in 2016. Gender segmentation shows a leap in the number of women studying Electrical Engineering – from 31 (2.1%) in 2016 to 97 (about 6%) in 2020.

Arab students in TAU hi-tech programs / Courtesy of Tel Aviv University

Data for the Blavatnik School of Computer Science indicate a leap of 50% in the number of Arab undergraduates in only five years. In 2020 152 Arab students (12.2%) studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, compared to 101 (8.7%) in 2016. Gender segmentation shows that these numbers included only 28 Arab women (2.4%) in 2016, with the figures doubling by 2020 (53 women, 4.3%).

Gender segmentation in TAU electrical engineering and computer science. / Courtesy of Tel Aviv University

Officials at TAU expressed considerable satisfaction with this achievement, noting that in recent years the university has made extensive efforts, through the Steering Committee for the Inclusion of Arabs and the Dean of Students Office, to integrate Arab students into the hi-tech disciplines.

TAU Rector Prof. Mark Shtaif (until recently Head of the School of Electrical Engineering) stressed: “Alongside academic excellence, TAU sees great importance in making higher education accessible to various sectors of the population, with an emphasis on Arab society. Several years ago, we set an ambitious goal for ourselves: raising the percentage of Arab students in the hi-tech disciplines to a level equal to their percentage in Israeli society. I am happy to say that in Electrical Engineering we reached this goal even earlier than expected, and I sincerely hope that the positive trend will continue in Computer Science as well until the goal is attained.”

Prof. Sivan Toledo, Head of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Said: “We are delighted to see these rising numbers, which reinforce the fact that top-quality higher education in computer science and engineering is a powerful engine of social mobility and integration.”

Dr. Youssef Mashharawi, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Inclusion of Arabs in Tel Aviv University, noted: “Following great efforts to make TAU accessible to the Arab population, and guide this population toward various disciplines, we are witnessing significant growth in the number of Arab students, both male and female, on campus – in a wide range of academic programs, including science and hi-tech. In addition to the requirement for academic excellence, TAU is also making efforts to assist these students through scholarships and academic support. For example, as part of the Sawa Program, the Dean of Students Office, headed by Prof. Tova Most, provides a comprehensive support network for Arab students – including personal tutors, group study, individual academic assistance, excellence programs, writing workshops, aid from a social worker and psychotherapy.”

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