The Council for Higher Education decreed Wednesday that Bar-Ilan University would from now on be prohibited from awarding doctorate degrees to students, like Yair Lapid, who have not completed a bachelor’s degree.
Lapid was admitted to the doctorate track based on his extra-academic credentials rather than his academic record, which was incomplete – a standard procedure which only began making headlines in Israel following Lapid’s decision to enter politics.
In the wake of the controversy that followed, the Council for Higher Education called the program “a deviation from appropriate academic standards,” requesting that students in Lapid’s track who have not completed a bachelor’s degree complete it before pursuing their doctorate. It also said it was considering levying financial sanctions against Bar-Ilan.
The university responded to the council’s decision by stating that it is not the only institution in Israel – or, as a matter of fact, in the world – to offer an accelerated track. Furthermore, the university stated that the accelerated program had existed for decades, meaning the Council for Higher Education had been familiar with it before the media furor erupted. Bar-Ilan officials added that only about 30 students in the university’s history had been allowed to proceed to doctoral studies without a bachelor’s degree. Those students had exceptional backgrounds that legitimated their acceptance to graduate studies, the officials said.