Bar-Ilan University Facing Sanctions for Accepting Yair Lapid

Political newcomer did not have B.A., as required by education council, when he was accepted directly into a Master's and then doctoral program.

The Council for Higher Education will recommend on Tuesday imposing sanctions on Bar-Ilan University for violating regulations on accepting students for advanced degrees. The investigation was launched after Haaretz revealed that Bar-Ilan had accepted Yair Lapid directly to a Master's and then a doctoral program without him having an B.A. degree.

The CHE ordered its committee on supervision and enforcement to investigate the matter, and the committee will meet on Tuesday and recommend action against the university.

Yair Lapid - Hadar Cohen - 31012012
Hadar Cohen

All other Israeli universities were asked to report any similar violations by the middle of February, but the Council of University Presidents said Tuesday that, as far as it knows, only Bar-Ilan admitted such students against the rules. However, a Bar-Ilan official said he thinks all of the universities do the same.

Lapid was accepted onto Bar-Ilan's prestigious culture and interpretation graduate program, which accepts only candidates who received a B.A. degree with honors. Lapid, a news and media personality whose recent announcement of his Knesset candidacy was accompanied by reports of skyrocketing popularity in polls, has no undergraduate degree.

In response, the CHE launched an investigation. The university says Lapid was accepted into the demanding master's and doctoral programs on the basis of his "literary and journalistic achievements."

The Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee held a session on Monday on the issue of acceptance to advanced degree programs without a bachelor's degree. Committee chairman Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu ) demanded freezing the program at Bar-Ilan until the matter was investigated and the CHE provided solutions. He also criticized Bar-Ilan officials for not showing up for the committee session.

Moshe Vigdor, the director general of the CHE and its Planning and Budgeting Committee, told the Education Committee the CHE takes the matter very seriously. He said Bar-Ilan claimed that it had followed its own rules, but the CHE did not accept the explanation, saying no university was allowed to violate the law or the CHE's regulations.

A representative of the Knesset's Research and Information Center said a preliminary examination showed that Bar-Ilan was indeed the only university offering such shortcuts to an advanced degree, and there are some 10 students at the university in such programs who do not have an undergraduate degree.

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