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Cabinet Scraps Two-tier Tuition Scheme for University Students

The Cabinet reached a compromise agreement Sunday on the issue of university tuition fees that apparently is acceptable to all parties. It reversed its most controversial decision to establish a two-tier system of lower fees for veterans of the Israel Defense Force, which much of the public saw as direct discrimination against Arab students who are barred by law from serving in the military.

All students will now pay an annual fee of $1,350, about $100 less than the current fee. The government will provide a $4.5 million subsidy for the financially hard-pressed universities to help reduce their deficits. The sum is less than the universities had asked for.

The Cabinet decision was a compromise between Education Minister Yitzhak Navon, who had pressed for lower fees, and Finance Minister Moshe Nissim, who insisted the Treasury could not afford additional subsidies.

The Cabinet acted under growing pressure from students and the universities. The Board of Governors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel’s oldest and largest institution of higher learning, voted last month not to open for the 1987-88 academic year unless a “realistic balanced budget” can be achieved for the next fiscal year.

The Governors said this was contingent on a “realistic commitment” of financial assistance from the government and “if deemed appropriate, a revision in the schedule of tuition fees.”

The Hebrew University’s budget for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30, is about $124 million. Its current operating deficit is about $20 million and the accumulated deficit for this year is estimated at $83-84 million.

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