Ariel University Center
Ariel University Center Ariel University Center

Arutz Sheva met with faculty and students at the Ariel University Center in the Shomron (Samaria), after it the Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education (CHE-JS) decided to accept the education facility as a full-fledged university.

The CHE-JS decided to accept Ariel as a university despite a recommendation by the Committee for Planning and Budgeting in the Council for Higher Education (CHE) not to grant the Ariel University Center full university status until next year. The decision was hailed as a victory for nationalists, especially because left-wing leaders expressed horror at the idea of a university existing in Samaria.

“We have mixed feelings about the decision,” said Professor Yossi Pinhasi, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the Ariel University Center in Samaria. “On the one hand we really like this decision but, as we always say, we’ve been acting as a university over the years so this decision just makes it formal.”

He said that the recognition as a university will allow Masters and PhD students to receive more scholarships, adding, “This decision will enable participation in conferences abroad and will also allow presentations of the students’ work in conferences around the world.”

In addition to opposition to the recognition from the left side of the political map, other opponents have said their objections are based on financial and academic positions.

“There are two parts to the objection to us becoming a university,” said Prof. Pinhasi. “First of all there’s an objection because we are in Judea and Samaria, and this is a political objection. The second part is because the existing universities are opposed to having another university in the area. This is why, for 40 years, no new universities have been added to Israel.”

He added, “This institute is a Zionist one. Its mission is to be an institute in Judea and Samaria and contribute to the settlement here.”

He noted that the college still awaits a final decision from the IDF, which has legal authority over Judea and Samaria.