Founded in 1995, Ono Academic College is the largest private college in Israel, with over 15,000 students and 36,000 alumni, on five campuses: Kiryat Ono, Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya, and the Haredi campus in Or Yehuda. Ono offers a large selection of undergraduate degree programs in four faculties – Law, Health Professions, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Business Administration – as well as at the School of Therapy and Arts and the School of Music.
Ono Academic College upholds first-rate academic standards and strives for excellence on every level. Students receive a topnotch education that prepares them for the “real world” and refines their abilities to contend with challenging situations. The curriculum also includes ample hands-on learning and practical applications. The members of Ono's first-rate faculty excel in their fields of expertise, boasting impressive careers in their professions as well as in academia. Students benefit greatly from the high quality of the teaching and from the opportunity to learn from Israel’s best. In fact, for five years in a row, Ono’s lecturers were ranked as the best in Israel according to a national student survey.
In 2023, Ono Academic College will open the first multicultural campus in Israel, which will be Ono's new permanent campus. It will serve as a home for all sectors and cultures and meet the challenges of Israeli society in upcoming decades. Ono’s Haredi and general campuses will merge into a single campus – the first time that a Haredi campus will operate alongside a secular one. The vision is that academia will pave the way for a more tolerant society able to embrace and empower different populations without rejecting their lifestyles. The new, modern campus near Kiryat Ono will incorporate the latest technologies and pedagogies, and will offer an unprecedented learning experience.
At Ono, students from different sectors of society are treated with sensitivity and respect. “In order for Israeli society to enable a more expansive notion of multiculturalism, it must rethink existing paradigms and seek to offer multiple possibilities for inclusion in higher education,” asserts Prof. Tova Hartman, Dean of Ono’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. “How can we make ourselves welcoming such that when you come, you add to the diversity of our school? That’s one of our central goals – wherever you’re from, you will have a place. I deeply believe, and the College deeply believes, that this is important for serious academic learning,” she insists.
Ono’s students are indeed a microcosm of Israeli society and include Arabs, Druze, Haredim, Ethiopian Israelis, National Religious Jews, secular Jews and others. In one of his first speeches after becoming President of Israel, Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin famously warned that Israeli society is divided into “tribes” with little interaction between them. The result is a severely splintered society, which is detrimental on many levels. Ono Academic College is determined to play a role in reversing this worrisome trend by embracing a multicultural and integrative approach to education, and by finding a way for people to respect each other’s differences. “It’s one of the challenges of Israeli society and one of the challenges of our college. It’s a challenge for everybody, but I think we can create a different type of student by the time he or she graduates,” says Prof. Hartman.
Indeed, the student body of Ono Academic College reflects Israel’s entire population and the College strives to make higher education accessible to those who didn’t think it was for them or that they would have a home in academia. “Ono has created a community of learners who can genuinely sit around the table and talk about their differences,” notes Prof. Hartman. This is partly accomplished through the College’s numerous labs of multicultural engagement and learning, including: the Students Mentor Students program, where students who have academic challenges are mentored by honors students from different backgrounds; Seeing Far, which trains alumni on the autistic spectrum for jobs in the IDF and in civilian workplaces; and the Center for Academic Accessibility, tasked with assuring that students with disabilities can obtain academic degrees.
Accessible to all
Ono Academic College is proud of the fact that Israel’s Arab community is not only represented but also integrated on campus. Most Israelis live in “bubbles” within their own communities and few have ever interacted with peers from other communities prior to the army or college — if then. “When kids graduate from high school in Israel, they have basically looked at themselves in the mirror for 18 years,” says Prof. Hartman. “If someone wants to understand Israeli society, engage in Israeli society, and see how we address the real challenges of Israel, this is a good place to study and to learn.”
Since every effort is made to make higher education accessible to the entire population of Israel, Ono Academic College also offers unique support programs for Ethiopian-Israelis, people with disabilities, ultra-Orthodox men and women, and other minority groups. The College’s program for Ethiopian-Israelis encourages students from this community to develop leadership skills and pursue prestigious careers in the public or private sector. They receive personal attention and counseling throughout their studies, including extra lessons and tutoring.
Another unique program supports students with disabilities, including those wishing to “taste” academic studies without committing to a full degree. Special tracks are available for these students in almost all the faculties: Law, Business, Music, Health and Sports. Each student with disabilities receives intensive support from the College’s staff and special flexible programs are designed to support each student’s abilities and preferences.
The College also offers honors programs in areas such as Computer Science, Law and Education.
Meeting the needs of the Ultra-Orthodox
Rather than insisting that ultra-Orthodox students study together with everyone else in mixed-gender classes, Ono Academic College established a special program that suits the needs of this community. The Haredi track is designed to accommodate specific social and cultural norms, including separate classes for each gender, an extensive support system, pre-academic preparatory programs, suitable course schedules and more. As a result, Haredi men and women benefit from the opportunity to obtain an academic education that paves the way to a large variety of careers, allowing them to climb out of poverty and often to better integrate into Israeli society, while maintaining their Haredi identity. Thousands of Haredi alumni have already joined the workforce in many different professions.
Ultra-Orthodox students also have opportunities to interact with a cross-section of Israeli society during their studies. They engage with teachers from different backgrounds and are invited to participate in seminars and round table discussions that are open to the entire student body. They also can opt to join regular academic programs during their degrees.
Prof. Hartman insists that providing special academic tracks for the ultra-Orthodox community supports the College’s spirit of pluralism: “Haredim want to earn a respectable income, but they wish to be educated in a way that allows them to maintain their cultural values. Not allowing for public segregated higher education goes beyond not respecting or not tolerating, and is just plain discrimination.”
For more information about Ono Academic College, visit www.ono.ac.il