A day after a supervisory body decided not to grant the Ariel University Center full-fledged university status at this time, right-wing legislators said Thursday they would introduce a bill to bypass the council and grant university status directly through the Knesset.
“I regret the Council of Higher Education yielded to narrow political pressures,” said MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), founder of a Knesset lobby to grand university status to the school. Calling the decision “outrageous” and a “direct hit” on the growth of higher education in Israel, Miller vowed to “act in every way” to ensure that the college recieved full university status.
After the results were announced on Wednesday, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said there was no choice but to legislate university status.
Speaking to Army Radio on Thursday, Ariel University board member Eli Ayalon urged the government to fulfill its responsibility and bypass the Council of Higher Education. “It must be a state decision,” he said.
The ruling, which came after a five-year trial period during which the school was allowed to operate under the title of “university center” instead of the former “College of Judea and Samaria,” defers a final status decision until May 2013.
The council cited budgetary reasons for not granting university status to the center, which is located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, north of Jerusalem, but critics of the decision say the established universities’ heads, who all sit on the council, are afraid of competition and have a political bias against the settlements.
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