Members of the Knesset and the heads of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) strongly condemned on Wednesday the decision of the Committee for Planning and Budgeting in the Council for Higher Education (CHE) that the Ariel University Center will not receive full university status.
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), who chairs a Knesset Lobby for recognizing the Ariel University Center as a university, said, “The recommendation not to recognize the Ariel University Center as a university is a first-class scandalous decision which points to the capitulation of the committee to narrow political interests.”
He added, “I regret that the head of the committee left a major institution under such a vague definition. I hope the management of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria makes a brave decision go against this shameful decision. I intend to use all the existing parliamentary methods [to fight the decision].”
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also condemned the decision, saying, “The decision is an ugly politicization of Israeli academia. In this situation, there is no escape and the political system will have to be practical and regulate the recognition.”
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said, “The decision is an improper mixture of economic interests of heads of institutions who are concerned about their budgets being reduced when Ariel is recognized as a university, with the leftist politics that characterizes some of them in their attempt to struggle against the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Ariel deserves to be a university and will be a university in spite of them.”
The Head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, called on Education Minister Gideon Saar “to immediately dismiss the chairman of the committee, Manuel Trajtenberg.”
Mesika added, “Radical political considerations prevailed over professional considerations. If it was an Arab university it would have been approved long ago. It is not possible that the far left will impose its views on a whole nation and against the decisions of professionals. I expect a nationalist government to approve first thing tomorrow the recognition of the Ariel University Center.”
In its decision, the CHE said that it cannot, at this point, change a decision made in 2006, according to which there is no need for establishing or recognizing an additional university in Israel at this time.
"The committee must first analyze the national need of the higher education system in the establishment of another university," the CHE stated. "If the committee's opinion is that the need exists, it must operate according to egalitarian guidelines and relevant criteria."
Ariel University Center reacted to the decision, saying that "As expected, the members of the Committee for Planning and Financing elected to ignore the report by the CHE, which determines that after 30 years of activity, Ariel University Center is university for all intents and purposes."
"The committee serves the old hegemony controlled by the heads of the seven universities, which operate for their own institutions' narrow interests, and are trying to thwart the growth of higher education in Israel at the expense of Israeli students and lecturers."
"We expect the Minister of Education not to surrender to the university heads' cartel and to make the proper decision for the good of all Israeli citizens."