The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has become the first Israeli university to recognize the Palestinian Authority’s matriculation exam, known as the taujihi.
Previously, Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza who wanted to study at the university had to complete a year-long preparatory program before being admitted.
With the new policy, those Palestinians with outstanding scores on their taujihi will be able to be accepted into the university without any preparatory program.
Additionally, the new program will allow the top-rate Palestinian students to be admitted into the institution without taking the Psychometric Entrance Test — Israel’s version of the American SAT college entrance exam — as long as they meet the required scores on their taujihi tests.
The new policy, however, is a pilot, and only applies to a limited amount of academic departments, including most of the humanities programs, communications and journalism, geography, international relations, political science, sociology, anthropology and statistics.
The scores required for admission without a psychometric test range from 90 for humanities programs to 95 for the department of statistics.
Palestinian students will still be obligated to fulfill all the requirements for admittance to the university, including learning Hebrew.
“The idea is to increase the pluralism of the university without sacrificing the standard of the students,” The vice-rector of the university, Prof. Assaf Friedler told The Times of Israel, acknowledging the diverse populace of Jerusalem, where the university is primarily located.
Friedler said that the university did not examine the quality of the taujihi exams, but rather the institution believes high scores on the Palestinian exams is a good predictor for academic success.
This pilot will “test” that theory, Friedler said.
The new policy is aimed particularly at Arab East Jerusalemites, whose neighborhoods surround the Hebrew University’s main campus on Mount Scopus.
Though they have Israeli residency, the vast majority of East Jerusalem students attend schools that follow the PA’s curriculum, which they adopted following the Oslo peace accords in 1993, according to a 2010 Knesset report.
According to a 2015 report by the Israeli NGO Sikkuy, which advocates social equality, less than 12 percent of the Hebrew University’s student body is Arab. However, a spokesperson for the university said the exact number of Palestinians at the institution is unknown.
Hebrew University, which was named the highest-rated university in Israel and the Middle East in 2016 by the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings, recognizes the matriculation exams of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, the United States, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland and Holland.