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Council for Higher Education Looking into Lapid PhD Flap

Journalist turned politician accepted to PhD studies despite having no academic degrees.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/23/2012, 11:42 AM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Journalist and writer Yair Lapid, who announced his entry onto the political ring just over two weeks ago, is receiving negative press already. A report in Haaretz revealed that he was accepted into doctoral studies at Bar Ilan University although he has never held any academic degree. The Council for Higher Education is looking into the matter.

Lapid was accepted into the Advanced Degree Program for Study of Commentary and Culture based solely upon his "literary and journalistic achievements."

The program is considered one of Bar Ilan's flagship academic tracks and is officially intended for students who completed their bachelor's degree with excellence. In addition, the requirements for acceptance state that "the track is only offered to master's and PhD students, based upon the assumption that interdisciplinary study will only be meaningful and effective for a student who thoroughly studied one of two disciplines in the bachelor's degree."

The specific track that Lapid was accepted into last June requires completion of two years' studies in the master's degree track.

The Council for Higher Education announced Sunday that it has begun to look into the allegations and has asked Bar Ilan University for its response. "As a rule," the CHE said, "there is no acceptance to master's degree studies in higher education institutions without prior completion of a bachelor's degree." As for acceptance into PhD studies – this can usually only take place upon presentation of a master's degree with a thesis.

Bar Ilan University stated that Lapid's acceptance to doctoral studies was carried out "in the regular manner and according to the rules, on the basis of his achievements in journalism and literature and of recommendations, as part of a permanent and orderly procedure for students who do not have a bachelors' degree but excel in their field."

Lapid himself has not commented on the matter.