Climate change, a global pandemic, and the growing scourge of cyberattacks all threaten global stability. It’s no coincidence that all three figure prominently among the many programs offered at Tel Aviv University International, which will host an online Open Day event Feb. 1-2 via Zoom for prospective applicants.
TAU International has grown to play a central role in Tel Aviv University’s mission, making its world-renowned academic programs accessible to vast numbers of talented students from diverse countries and backgrounds. It attracts two to three thousand foreign students a year from nearly 100 countries, including new immigrants to Israel. All instruction takes place exclusively in English.
Maureen Meyer Adiri, director of TAU International, a Swiss-born immigrant herself who moved to Israel 12 years ago, says the programs at her institution aim to be as relevant as possible in an increasingly complex and globalized world. By creating a need for new recruitment strategies, the COVID-19 pandemic provided a fortuitous silver lining in furthering this goal. This year’s virtual Open Day will mark the first time the school’s recruitment efforts are taking place online, where prospective students from around the globe will be able to log in for comprehensive information sessions about TAU International’s programs.
“We’ve always tried to highlight the international side of Tel Aviv University during our open houses. But in the past, we were only able to reach the English-speaking audience based in Israel,” she explained. “We’ve had to adapt to a new reality in response to COVID, so we’ve developed a full-scale online open house entirely in English that lets talented applicants from around the world hear all about our offerings. By making us think outside of the box, the pandemic created this unexpected opportunity.”
The school offers some 60 academic programs in English ranging from social sciences to law, and business to cybersecurity. And given Iranian hacking attempts against Israeli civilian targets, Chinese corporate espionage, Russian interference with US elections, and North Korea’s theft of $400 million worth of cryptocurrency last year alone, cybersecurity has never been a hotter topic.
“What’s exceptional about our cyber politics and government program is that it approaches cybersecurity in an interdisciplinary manner,” said Meyer, adding that the program’s curriculum is definitely not just for computer geeks. “It’s based in the Faculty of Social Sciences and it’s open to students without any background in technology. So our program is truly unique in incorporating a wide variety of critical vantage points.”
“This Open Day is a great opportunity for students to ask questions, hear more about what we offer, and to talk to program heads, coordinators, current students and alumni,” said Orit Coty, marketing director of TAUi.
Among the timely graduate programs TAU International offers to prepare students for meaningful careers addressing the complex problems facing the modern world are environmental studies, disaster management, and international conflict resolution and mediation.
“Climate change is increasingly on young people’s radars. We have an excellent interdisciplinary program in environmental studies that empowers them to make a difference,” said Milette Shamir, Tel Aviv University’s vice president for international collaboration.
Shamir said TAU’s aim is “obviously to increase the number of excellent students we recruit from abroad. Even during this difficult period, we have not given up or frozen our objectives, because we believe that the research we do—and the quality of teaching we provide—stands to benefit from as diverse an international student body as we can create.”
For example, she explained, “if you are participating in a lab or a class where instead of having only Israeli students you also have students form India, Germany, China, and the United States, your chances of encountering or creating radically new ideas increase. International students bring with them their own academic backgrounds, traditions, and ways of thinking, and when they learn together innovation just happens.”
As to why students from around the world are attracted to TAUi, TAU’s high international ranking and illustrious reputation as a research institution are not their only motivations. Many are attracted to Tel Aviv itself, known as the “Non-Stop City” for its spectacular nightlife, unique architecture, and beautiful beaches. Israel’s unique culture and history, and the spirit of innovation that has earned it the “Startup Nation” moniker, are also major draws.
“Every student comes to us for a different reason,” said Shamir. “For those from China and India, quality of research is often very important. Others come because they are Zionists with an emotional connection to Israel, and that’s certainly a major motivating force for many American and European students. But we also have students whose motivations are completely different. Israel has so much to offer, and it’s often a global center for research in a student’s specific passion or field.”