Figures Show Arabs Underrepresented in Higher Education Teaching Positions

Despite government target of 10% Arab employees in Israel’s public sector by 2012, figures presented to Knesset by Council for Higher Education show only 2.7% of teaching staff, 1.7% of administrative staff at colleges and universities are Israeli Arabs.

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 today 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 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.

Hebrew University administration building
Asaf Efron

"The figures from the Council show that the rate of employment of Arabs in the higher education system is low according to any scale whatsoever," said Danny Gera, who is serving as a professional consultant to the commission of inquiry. "The rate is even lower than the rate in the Civil Service, in which the incorporation of Arabs does not meet the targets decided upon by the government."

Government decisions call for Arabs to make up 10 percent of the workers in the Civil Service by 2012.

At the end of 2010, Arabs made up 2.69 percent of the academic staff at Israel's universities, excluding Bar-Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, which failed to pass on its data to the Council. The figure stood at 1.2 percent in 2007. The increase, says attorney Ali Haider, co-director of the Sikkuy non-profit organization for promoting equality, may be down to the Maof program, which distributed scholarships to Arab academics who excelled in their studies.

The situation among university administrative staffs is even worse, Council figures show, with just 1.58 percent of the management posts at the higher education institutes filled by Arabs.

Furthermore, Arabs make up just 2.04 percent of the academic staff and 2.33 percent of the administrative staff at state-budgeted colleges.

Not a single Arab holds a senior management position at any of the state-budgeted colleges.

As for the Council itself, only two of its 22 members are Arab, while the Council's planning and budgeting committee has just one Arab member out of seven on the panel.

Haider says the figures confirm an issue his organization has tried bringing to light for some time.

"For the past few years now, we have been publishing similar figures, and warning and asking the Council for Higher Education and the universities to take action to increase the number of Arab academic and administrative staff members," he said. "Over the past decade, we are seeing more and more Arabs with doctorate degrees and the majority of them are being forced to leave the country and join prestigious universities in Europe and the United States."

Gera advised the commission of inquiry to instruct the Council's chairman to ensure that by the end of 2012 the watchdog would have taken on at least three Arab employees, one of them in a senior position.

Gera also wants the Council chairman to present within two months a proposal to up the Arab administrative staff numbers to 6 percent of the total by the end of 2013, with at least 15 percent of the final number to constitute senior employees.

He also wants the Council to initiate discussions with the country's universities and state-budgeted colleges on a five-year program (2011-2016 ) to increase the absorption of Arab staff members so as to reach a representation rate of at least 8 percent.