Hebrew University administration building
The administration building at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Photo by Asaf Efron
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Arabs make up a mere 2.7 percent of the academic teaching staff in Israel, according to figures from the Council for Higher Education. The Council's figures, which will be presented Monday to a commission of inquiry on absorption of Arabs into the Civil Service, show that just 280 Arab lecturers are currently employed in the country.

The statistics present a dismal picture of the state of Arab employment in Israeli universities and colleges.

The commission of inquiry, headed by United Arab List-Ta'al chairman MK Ahmed Tibi, will also be presented data showing not a single Arab employee in a senior management position at any of the state-budgeted colleges. Arabs make up just 1.7 percent of the higher education system's administrative staff, the Council's figures reveal.

According to Dr. Danny Gera, who acts as a professional adviser to the committee of inquiry, said the findings testify that the employment of Arabs in the higher education system is low by any measure. He added that the percentage of Arab employees in Israel’s higher education field is lower than the corresponding percentage in the civil services field, which itself is lower than the government’s target (which aims to have a 10% Arab constituency of all public sector employees by 2012).

Gera added that it appears that if out of 160 senior administrative employees in the higher education field, only two are Arabs, it would be hard to deny the conclusion that Arab employees are almost absent in institutional management.

However low the figures may be, they do represent an upward trend.

In 2010, 2.69% of academics at universities and colleges – not including the Weizmann Institute of Science and Bar Ilan University who did not submit the relevant information to the Council for Higher Education – were Arab. This was a total of 212 lecturers. In 2007 only 1.2% of lecturers were Arab.

According to Ali Haider, the co-executive director of Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel, the upward trend may be thanks to a program which granted academic scholarships to excelling Arab academics.