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Tel Aviv University students pay nearly twice as much for living accommodations as they do for tuition, states a Tel Aviv Student Union position paper.

The paper was written as part of a bill the union wishes to promote, to ease financial pressure on students by changing the tuition system as well as rent and transportation prices.

The union researched the income and expenses of an average student, based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Bank of Israel and the Tel Aviv municipality.

According to the paper, a student who lives in a two-room apartment in Tel Aviv with a flatmate and doesn't own a car spends NIS 69,500 every year.

"We chose to look at upper-middle class students, to show the difficulties facing even students supported by their parents," a union official said.

Of the total sum, 40 percent is for rent and accommodation, 23 percent is for tuition and academic expenses, 22 percent is for general expenses like clothing and transportation, 10 percent is for culture and sports and 5 percent is for communication services.

"Rental prices are the main factor in the high cost of studying in Tel Aviv," the paper states. "The main victims are students from outside the Gush Dan metropolitan area, who cannot live with their parents. Rent prices are the main reason why students from the periphery don't come to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv students spend on accommodation more than students in 12 European countries surveyed in an EU project."

The paper says most students draw 65 percent of their income from "personal sources," such as salaries, savings and education grants for army veterans; 18 percent from parental assistance; and 17 percent from a loan.

Under the bill the union is promoting, undergraduates would be charged a single annual payment equivalent to the monthly minimum wage.

After graduating, students would pay a 3.9 percent tax on their monthly income for the following 10 years.

The student union believes this would bring the education system an extra NIS 1 billion, which could be used to improve academic quality, build and maintain dormitories, and offer students extra financial support.

Student initiative

Other clauses in the draft bill concern accommodation, including tax benefits for landlords and having municipal companies purchase apartments to rent to specific groups, such as students, single mothers or people with disabilities.

"This is the first time the students have come up with an initiative concerning the world we live in, not just the higher education system," said union chairman Shahar Botzer. "We want to begin addressing the emigration of young people with academic ambitions or entrepreneurial initiatives.

"All our suggestions are practical, and they would allow students to develop, not just survive," he said.