The majority of institutions for higher learning opt not to provide students serving in active reserve duty with academic credits, despite being permitted to do so by law, according to a new report released ahead of the academic year.
According to the Students Rights Law, the Council for Higher Education can offer a number of allowances for students serving in reserve duty, including the ability to extend assignments, schedule additional test dates, and receive academic credits. Indeed, clause 11(3) of the Council’s bylaws states that “an institution that recognizes social activity with academic credits is also able to recognize reserve duty with two academic credits.”
The new report published by the Zionist advocacy organization Im Tirtzu found that despite this allowance, only 16 out of the 63 institutions for higher learning in Israel, some 25%, enable students serving in reserve duty the opportunity to attain academic credits for their service. The only universities to offer this are Haifa University and the Technion.
The report also highlights the large disparity between the hours of social activity and reserve duty that students need to perform in order to receive the same academic credits. While the average number of annual hours of social activity needed is 38.5, the average number of annual hours of reserve duty needed is 525 (over three weeks) – a gap of over 1,000 percent.
According to Im Tirtzu, the conflation of social activity and reserve duty is “fundamentally flawed, as it creates an artificial connection between reserve duty, which is mandatory in the State of Israel, and social activity, which is important but not compulsory.”
In addition, report calls attention to the lack of uniformity among academic institutions in the amount of service that students are required to perform in order to receive credits.
For example, while the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya offers academic credits to students who serve 10 days throughout the year, Hadassah Academic College offers credits to students who serve 21 days throughout the year and Katzrin’s Ohalo College offers credits to students who serve a total of 70 days over a four-year period.
Im Tirtzu Chairman, Matan Peleg, said in response to the findings that “it is very unfortunate that the majority of academic institutions do not feel that students serving in reserve duty are worthy of academic recognition. A society that does not know how to appreciate and compensate those who defend it harms its very fabric.”
“We are calling on the Council for Higher Education,” continued Peleg, “to initiate an extensive study on this issue and see to it that reservists are properly rewarded for their service.”