On the Right Course for Life in Israel


Studying in Israel has many benefits for new immigrants (olim), not least of which is meeting people and making new friends in the country you’ve chosen to make your home. The options are numerous and every city and area in Israel has choices that will give you the start in life you need.

Choosing to make Aliyah before you start your tertiary education or your post-graduate studies will give you many advantages over the alternative. Studying in Israel enables you to learn Hebrew and eventually study in the language, become accustomed to the culture and lifestyle, make potential business contacts that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career, and make friends that will last a lifetime. But equally important, with the special scholarships given to new olim, studying in Israel is free with no loans left to pay after graduation!

There are eight major universities in Israel with more than 30 other institutions of higher education and nearly 30 teacher training colleges. These institutions all offer under-graduate and post-graduate degree courses and/or diploma courses in a variety of disciplines. The options are endless.

Although the language of instruction in most colleges and universities is Hebrew, several offer a few courses and/or programs in English. Most students who wish to continue their higher education in Israel have to participate in one of two pre-academic preparatory programs for new immigrants: a university preparatory program (Mechina) or a pre-academic program (TAKA).

The Mechina programs are meant for students with non-equivalent Israeli high school diplomas who wish to enter universities that require Mechina. The duration of the program is one academic year – two semesters and a summer ulpan in Hebrew. Some universities require students to first complete a Mechina before they can register for regular studies and will only accept students from their own Mechina programs.

The TAKA pre-academic program is meant for students with equivalent high school matriculation or an academic record which exempts them from Mechina, as well as candidates for Masters studies. The duration is between one and two semesters of five to 10 months.

The Israel Student Authority, operating through the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel, grants tuition scholarships for up to three years of higher education to eligible new immigrant students. The grant is dependent on academic achievements and the fulfillment of a volunteer community work requirement in the last year of the scholarship.

To qualify, students must study at a recognized institution and be a new immigrant (or a returning minor or citizen born abroad), and begin academic studies within 36 months of making Aliyah (or receiving this status). This does not include any time spent in the army or national service. Students must also start their studies before their 23rd birthday for a mechina program, their 27th birthday for an undergraduate degree, or their 30th birthday for a graduate degree.

The Student Authority will also evaluate academic documents (e.g. degrees, diplomas, transcripts, etc.) and confirm eligibility for financial assistance.

Before making Aliyah, young adults can receive information and advice on study options in Israel from Nefesh B’Nefesh (www.nbn.org.il). A brief overview of a few of the universities and colleges in Israel follows.

Academic Centre of Law and Business (formerly Ramat Gan College of Law)

What originally began as a small college started by Hebrew University’s Law faculty 15 years ago has evolved into a highly recognized and respected non-profit academic institution. The Academic Centre of Law and Business (CLB) is a leader in the development of legal clinics in Israeli law schools and was among the first to create a legal clinic for human rights and one on corporate social responsibility.

Ashkelon Academic College

Ashkelon College was established in 1965 on the initiative of Bar-Ilan University’s founders. Since then, the branch, which consisted of about 100 students, has become one of the largest colleges in the country, with more than 5,600 students registered in 2010 and about 15 undergraduate study programs.

In 1991, Ashkelon College was recognized by the Ministry of Education as a regional college and in 2000, Ashkelon Academic College was founded. It was granted permission to provide independent degrees in 2004 and was given recognition and accreditation by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) as an Israeli institution of higher education in 2007.

Bar-Ilan University,
Ramat Gan

Bar-Ilan University is the fastest growing academic institution in Israel with a community of students numbering 33,000. Bar-Ilan’s mission is to conduct cutting-edge research while training highly qualified professionals in the sciences, humanities, law, engineering, business and the arts – all within a unique learning environment which fosters Jewish values and continuity.

From its globally-recognized leadership in nanotechnology, Biblical archaeology and brain science, as well as its English-language graduate programs in business administration and creative writing, to the recent launch of Israel’s newest faculty of medicine, Bar-Ilan University is leading a national initiative to stem Israel’s ‘brain drain’ by repatriating outstanding Israeli experimentalists from abroad.

Ben-Gurion University
of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was recently selected as the number one choice of Israeli students in a survey conducted by the National Students Union thanks to its unique atmosphere and internationally-recognized academics. English-language programs like those in the Medical School for International Health and the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies attract a fascinating mix of students from around the world.

In addition, BGU was the first in Israel to offer Bioinformatics through the Department of Computer Sciences, and is one of the few universities in the world to offer a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Medical Services (Paramedics) through the Faculty of Health Sciences.

IDC Herzliya

IDC Herzliya, Israel’s first private university, has attracted 1,300 students from 77 countries to the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS). It is the only academic institution in Israel that offers three-year bachelor degree programs in the social sciences taught entirely in English.

BA degrees are offered in Business Administration, Communications, Economics, Government and Psychology. Graduate studies include: MBA; MA in Government; and an MA in Organizational Behavior and Development (OBD).

“This article is part of a promotional Aliyah section.”