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Olim protest possible end of scholarships

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Immigrants to Israel protested a possible end of full government scholarships for university degrees.

Sunday’s protest at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem came after the 6,700 students taking advantage of a program that provided full tuition to pursue a degree at an Israeli university received an email informing them that their scholarships for next year may be canceled, according to The Jerusalem Post.

A $7.6 million gap in funding to the Israel Student Authority precipitated the move.

"People came here to make their homes, and they can’t make their homes if they are staying in the lowest classes, if they are stuck and can’t advance," law student Yakov Bikaw, an Ethiopian immigrant, told the Post.

The Student Authority, which has a total budget of $18 million for the scholarships, was funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, but the Jewish Agency had been cutting back on its contribution before eliminating it this year.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky in a statement said, however, that a new deal would be reached and students would not be left without funding.

"We have made clear from the start that no student will be hurt and we shall continue to bear responsibility for these projects … until the government assumes responsibility for them," Sharansky said in the statement, according to the Post.

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