Thousands of potential students poured into the Samaria city of Ariel on Friday to explore the offerings of its university, the first such institution to be created in the region.
The institution, Ariel University Center, hosts an annual open house at this time of year as do the rest of the state's higher education facilities. Counselors were available to answer questions, while faculty and staff delivered talks in various classrooms and the campus radio station provided a live broadcast of the events from a strategic spot.
Known for its degree programs in engineering, biotechnology, physiotherapy, social work, behavioral sciences, communications and architecture, among others, AUC provides classes to some 14,000 students. Both Bachelors and Masters degree programs are offered, and new dormitory facilities are expected to be completed in time for the start of semester in November.
The city of Ariel, which hosts the institution, is itself located less than an hour north of Jerusalem and is home to some 30,000 residents in addition to the annual influx of students from around the country.
Established in 1982, the university center is one of the fastest-growing academic institutions in Israel. Self-identified as a Zionist institution, AUC imposes two requirements in addition to the usual prerequisites: each student must study one course per semester on some aspect of Judaism, Jewish heritage or Land of Israel studies, and the flag of the State of Israel must be displayed in every classroom, laboratory and auditorium on campus.