Choosing to study at one of Israel’s universities is the first step on a path towards academic excellence. The country has been ranked second in the world in tertiary education attainment by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and this commitment to teaching is evident in its institutions — several of which have been ranked among the best in the world. In their state-of-the-art facilities, award-winning faculty members conduct cutting-edge research, often resulting in scientific breakthroughs.
Alongside these achievements, Israel has fostered an academic environment that’s inclusive and engaging, enabling students to take an active role in their own education. What’s more, the country’s informal culture and flat hierarchy mean that speaking up and challenging preconceptions is a key part of the academic experience.
“The level of expertise of my professors is impressive,” says Ana Benitz, who completed her MSc in environmental sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Agriculture. “Yet, it’s their ‘human contact’ that makes the difference. They’re humble with their knowledge and approachable, sharing what they know, yet listening to our ideas and questions.”
The Council for Higher Education, together with nine academic institutions, has created a magazine to showcase Israel’s academic excellence to prospective international students. Israeli Academia is packed full of information on the country’s academic system and articles from its leading higher education institutions, including innovative research projects, initiatives and success stories. The content is also available on the Israeli Academia microsite in the form of an interactive eZine.
Innovation is another hallmark of Israel. Ranked sixth in the world by the Bloomberg Innovation Index, the country has more start-ups per capita than any other nation in the world. Numerous ground-breaking discoveries and world-leading companies have their beginnings within Israeli academia, meaning that students here learn alongside pioneering minds.
In recent years, the Israeli Academy has sought to further integrate this spirit into campus life through the Council for Higher Education’s flagship New Campus program. The aim is to spearhead a hands-on approach to education and develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem, enabling students to channel their creativity into projects with a real potential for impact. At the core of this initiative are Entrepreneurship and Innovation centers, established in academic institutions across the country, which create ties between industry and academia and provide students with guidance to develop their entrepreneurial ideas.
The country also has its gaze firmly on digital learning — the importance of which has recently become clearer than ever. As a first step, two main projects have been set up to showcase top-quality courses from Israeli institutions on an international and national arena. One, using the IsraelX platform on edx.org, allows people from all over the world to partake in Israeli academia. Within the country, meanwhile, the Campus IL platform gives people from all walks of life access to education in Hebrew, English and Arabic. There are already dozens of digital courses provided by universities and colleges on both platforms, with even more under development.
While teaching and learning methods across the world have changed radically due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Israeli higher education system is not one to rest on its laurels. Academic institutions across the country are adapting to the new reality, upgrading their digital learning facilities and aiming to enable all students to experience the advantages digital learning can provide to academic quality and inclusion.
Students with a drive to excel, gain creative and critical thinking skills and tackle real-world problems should look no further than Israel.
(The Council for Higher Education [CHE] is the official authority for higher education in Israel and determines policy for the higher education system.)