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The Council for Higher Education is expected to require that presidents of all institutes of higher education be professors, council sources said Sunday.

The council stipulated in 2003 that all college presidents must be professors, but no such prerequisite was expressly stated for universities.

The council said last week it would not allow former Haaretz editor in chief Hanoch Marmari to become president of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, a prominent arts college, because he is not a professor.

The anticipated change in regulations is not expected to retroactively invalidate the recent appointment of former Cellcom CEO Amos Shapira as president of the University of Haifa, a choice criticized both inside and outside the university because Shapira is not an academic.

In the past, retired generals have served as university presidents, such as Amos Horev at the Technion and Shlomo Gazit at Ben-Gurion University. Neither was a professor.

"In the past, it was accepted that university presidents - as opposed to rectors - were not necessarily people from academia," said Yehezkel Teller, a former deputy chairman of the higher education council. "This only became the pattern over time."

Teller said it's more important for colleges to have an academic at the helm than universities, because universities have systems of checks and balances and hundreds of professors on staff, including the rectors and deans.