MKs Bash Bar Ilan's 'Doctorate for Journalists'

Education Committee meets to discuss special PhD track that caters to journalists, asks who else is in it.

Gil Ronen ,

Students at Bar Ilan University
Students at Bar Ilan University
Israel news photo: INN TV)

The Knesset's Education Committee held a session Monday to discuss the special PhD track that Bar Ilan University has opened to journalists, which is called "Commentary Studies." Unlike other PhD tracks, the Commentary track accepts people who have no Bachelors' or Masters' degrees.

The track has become famous in recent weeks after it became known that journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid has been accepted into it.

Knesset Education Committee members were surprised to learn that Lapid is not alone and that about 20 other students were accepted into the program based upon "exceptional achievements." The university said that acceptance into doctoral studies based on exceptional achievements is specified in the university's rules and regulations.

MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beitenu) said Monday that the track is "a flagrant deviation from the accepted conditions [for acceptance] in the academic system; we will not allow universities to privatize their conditions for acceptance."

The Committee for Inspection and Enforcement of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) will convene Tuesday to decide how to act regarding the Lapid flap. The CHE has said it never approved the Commentary track and conditions for acceptance into it.

Knesset members from all factions appear united in their hostility toward Lapid. Leftists expect him to take a bite out of their parties, while MKs from the nationalist and religious parties oppose him ideologically. Some fellow journalists are also opposed to his political aspirations.

MKs who took part in the debate called on Bar Ilan to publish the names of other journalists who have been accepted into the special track. No representative from Bar Ilan showed up for the Knesset session.