The Ariel University Center welcomed on Monday evening the decision to officially recognize it as a full-fledged university.
Earlier, Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed a government decision to officially recognize the academic center, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein upheld the Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council's (CHE-JS) decision to accredit the school.
"We were delighted to hear the opinion of the Attorney General," the university said, adding, "This opinion is a natural outcome of the circumstances of the case, as the Ariel University Center of Samaria meets all the academic standards. These standards were examined by a committee of six professors, made up of the best experts in the country and representatives of other universities."
The university added, "There is no doubt that this is an academic, serious and correct move. Any attempt to tarnish the committee members and the Ariel University Center of Samaria, and to argue against the procedure, constitutes damage to higher education in Israel."
The National Council for Higher Education has spoken out against recognizing Ariel, branded the decision to do so political and filed a petition against it to the Supreme Court.
"We are pleased to see that all those concerned were never diverted by the false arguments of those with outside interests," said the Ariel University Center. "First and foremost is Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who withstood heavy pressure and insisted on recognizing an eighth research university in Israel. Along with him the move was assisted by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Sport Limor Livnat, as well as Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who worked by understanding of the truth and did not heed to the objections."
In the motion filed by heads of other universities to the Supreme Court against the CHE-JS’ decision to recognize Ariel, they claim that that the CHE-JS exceeded the bounds of its authority when it decided, against the opinion of the Council of Higher Education's Planning and Finance Committee, to recognize Ariel as a University, and that its decision is riddled with legal faults. These are not academic in nature.
The universities have said that they are afraid that the decision will reduce their funding. Bar Ilan University has retracted its signature on the motion.