Tuition at Israeli universities is higher than in all European countries except Britain, according to a new report by the Knesset Research and Information Center.
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Annual tuition in Israel is NIS 10,198 for BA students and NIS 13,781 for MA students, and Israel doesn't have significant student-loan programs as many European countries do.
In the report, the research center translates all prices into euros. In Israel, annual tuition is 2,127 euros for BA students and 2,874 euros for MA students; in Britain these numbers are 10,341 euros and 4,810 euros, respectively. In Hungary and Switzerland prices range between 795 euros and 5,532 euros for BA students and 830 euros and 3,319 euros for MA students.
In Spain, BA students pay 1,074 compared with 1,300 euros in Italy and up to 1,066 euros in Portugal. In Turkey, Iceland and France tuition is only several hundred euros. In Poland and the Czech Republic only a registration fee between 21 and 41 euros is required.
Studies are absolutely free for BA students in Cyprus, Greece and Malta, as well as for BA and MA students in Estonia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and most German states.
Thirteen countries offer loans that go to more than 5 percent of students. In Israel a program based on need offers grants and loans worth NIS 100 million a year, or 5 percent of all tuition fees paid to subsidized academic institutions (not including the Open University). Most of this actually comes in the form of grants.
Over the years, Israeli tuition fees have been set by special committees; the recommendations by the last committee were accepted by the government in 2001. The committee suggested lowering BA tuition fees by 50 percent over five years, but tuition fees decreased by only 26 percent and have since risen slightly each year based on the consumer price index.
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, the chairman of the Council for Higher Education, has said tuition fees should be raised to bolster the multiyear plan for improving higher education. Trajtenberg says several billion shekels are needed for the program.
"Tuition is only one component of students' expenses, which include significant other outlays such as food and rent," said student union chief Uri Reshtik. "In several European countries government programs offer assistance in rent and transportation, as well as grants and subsidized loans. The Israeli government must remove the financial barriers and let whoever wishes to get a higher education get one. Students expect the government to realize that the upcoming year is crucial for dealing with the cost of living of the middle class, especially students."