The Israeli Colleges Are Not a College

GUTFELD: Colleges are brain-free zones

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2005


The fact that the U.S. State Department has approved the proposed creation of four colleges in Israel is, of course, news, but this is by no means the first time it has done this.

Each year, there are Israeli attempts to build a college in a neighboring country. And each year, the process is criticized as a diversion of money and attention from building roads and public buildings throughout Israel.

The problem is that there is nothing wrong with the concept of a “college” in the Israel we know, and the proposed plans for universities and schools amount to nothing more than rebranding of existing institutions.

There is no shortage of universities throughout Israel, or, as some of us call them, “kumbaar” (schools). These institutions are the result of years of effort by university founders and their staffs to create learning experiences for teachers which are relevant to student needs.

In Israel, this is called kibbatza (education), and the universities offer everything from computer courses for new teachers to seminars and workshops with world-renowned speakers for school leaders.

The schools, or kibbutzim, which are government approved, offer the same courses and degrees but at different times, or in different subjects, and require the same qualifications.

The students can learn any subject, from chemistry to management to medicine to history, at a university of their choice, and they will have access to university experts and professors who can advise them about their own studies.

But here is the rub: If you are from Tel Aviv who wants to become a doctor, you go to Tel Aviv Medical School, even though students from most other cities are also admitted to this same school.

If you are from Ashkelon, another city which is not far from Tel Aviv, you go to the university in Ashkelon and learn chemistry, even if you want to become a doctor.

If you are from Kfar Saba, the next largest city, you go to the university in Kfar Saba, even though students from other cities are also admitted to this same school.

There are more similarities between these schools and universities than differences.


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