The number of ultra-Orthodox students enrolled in higher education has increased dramatically over the past several years, according to a report published this week.
The ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, community has traditionally shunned secular educational institutions, an attitude that has in the past severely impacted on its members’ ability to integrate into the job market.
The report, from the Taub Center for Social Policy Center in Israel, found: “Between 2008 and 2014 the number of Haredim newly enrolled in academic learning institutions nearly tripled: from 1,122 to 3,227.” The study forms part of the center’s “State of the Nation Report 2016.”
The number of students completing their course of study more than doubled between 2012 and 2014, with more than three times as many women (1,600) earning a degree as men (450), the study said.
It gave no reasons for the sudden rise in enrollment numbers.
Despite this growth, the ultra-Orthodox community lags far behind the rest of Israel, with only about 2.5% of men and 8% of women among those aged 25-35 having an academic degree, compared with 28% of secular men and 43% of secular women.
Compared to the rest of the population, there were fewer ultra-Orthodox students at universities, and a higher percentage learning in academic colleges (primarily on ultra-Orthodox campuses, where the admissions requirements are much easier) and at the Open University.
The dropout rate for ultra-Orthodox students was 58%, which the report attributed to the fact that the majority of ultra-Orthodox male students do not study core curriculum subjects in high school.
However, the study cautioned that “without a change in their basic education, it seems that their drop-out rates will remain high.” It went on to say that “academic preparatory (mechina) programs and adequate support during academic studies could improve Haredi students’ chances of success.”