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MASA invests $400,000 to help universities establish study in Israel programs

MASA has invested $400,000 in an initiative to try to increase the number of American college students who attend study abroad programs in Israel, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The North American arm of the Israel-based group, which is funded by the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, has traditionally provided to Diaspora post-graduates scholarships to help them participate in extended-stay programs in Israel.

But now it is helping eight American University establish study abroad programs in Israel in 2010-2011. MASA will give $50,000 each to  Arizona State University, Barnard College, Case Western Reserve University, Michigan State University, the New Jersey state-university system, the University of Florida, and the business schools of the University of Maryland and of Washington University in St. Louis to help them establish or build upon existing programs, a spokesman for MASA told The Fundermentalist. The money is to be used as seed money.

Reports The Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Israel is 22nd out of the top 25 study-abroad destinations for students from the United States, according to the Institute of International Education, which advised Masa on the programs.

A total of 2,322 American students participated in study abroad in Israel in 2007-8, the most recent year for which data are available, and 2,226 the previous year. By contrast, more than 30,000 went to Britain, the top destination, in 2007-8.

Avi Rubel, director of Masa’s North American operations, said that it was too early to know how many students would participate in the new programs, but that he hoped to propel Israel into the top 15 study-abroad destinations in the coming years.

Students wanted to study in Israel, he said, but not all were attracted by the academic programs traditionally offered to them, which have focused on Middle Eastern studies, Hebrew, and religious studies.

"In business, Israel is one of the centers of entrepreneurship in the world. You can have an amazing academic experience and an internship on par with London or anywhere else—it just hasn’t been available until now," he said.

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