New Bill of Rights' for Student Reservists

Education Minister Limor Livnat and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will sign an agreement today whose goal is to ensure that university students are not penalized for doing army reserve duty.

Education Minister Limor Livnat and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will sign an agreement today whose goal is to ensure that university students are not penalized for doing army reserve duty.

The document has already been signed by the heads of all the colleges and universities, as well as by the Student Union.

For years, university students have complained that they are often forced to repeat courses because they missed an exam or were unable to submit a paper on time due to reserve duty, but repeated efforts to get the universities to agree on a set of rights for reservists failed. The present compact was achieved largely thanks to a threat by Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim (Likud) to legislate such rights if the universities could not agree on them voluntarily.

The main points of the compact are as follows:

Reservists who miss an exam, or who missed 14 consecutive days or 21 cumulative days before an exam, will be entitled to take a make-up test that term, rather than only the following semester.

Reservists who are absent for 14 days or more before a project is due will be entitled to either an extension or an exemption.

Students will be given photocopies and tapes of the lecture material they missed during reserve duty; they will also be entitled to tutoring and will be given priority in borrowing reserved library books.

A student who has to repeat a course due to reserve duty will not have to pay for it the second time around.

If the course he has to repeat is a prerequisite for another course or degree program, he will be conditionally accepted to that course or program and allowed to make up the missing course later.

Reserve service will give the student "points" when applying for scholarships or space in a dormitory. The universities initially objected vehemently to this provision, but eventually backed down.

Shosh Berlinsky, the director-general of the Council for Higher Education and the person who drafted the document, prepared the draft with input from the university presidents, the Student Union and the commander of the Israel Defense Forces' reserve forces.