A late night meeting between Finance Ministry officials and student leaders Monday revealed that the treasury is planning a multi-million shekel cut to the higher education budget that will lead to a major increase of university tuition costs, and likely to department closures and faculty firings.
The deputy head of the ministry’s budget department Yoni Regev told National Student Union head Uri Rashtik that the planned cuts could reach hundreds of millions of shekels, which in turn would lead to a double-digit increase in tuition costs starting the next academic year, Channel 10 reported.
University students typically pay around NIS 10,000 ($2,750) in annual tuition for a full-time program.
“I told the treasury representatives that we will oppose any move that will harm higher education in Israel. We call on Finance Minister Yair Lapid to oppose the planned move,” said Rashtik. “Israel’s students are standing guard and we will battle in order to protect education in the country.”
The 2013-2014 budget is due to be approved in the coming months and will be in place through 2014.
Israel’s budget deficit in 2012 reached NIS 39 billion, or 4.2% of gross domestic product, more than double the state’s original projection for the shortfall. Officials have said new taxes and severe cuts in public expenditures will have to be made in the new budget to bring the deficit under control.
University students took an active role in the mass social protests over the high cost of living that swept the country in the summer of 2011.