Number of Israeli Arab Ph.D. Candidates More Than Doubled in a Decade

The Israeli Council of Higher Education calls these statistics a 'revolution'

FILE PHOTO: University of Haifa, January 13, 2019.
Eran Gilvarg

The number of Arab Ph.D. candidates in Israel has more than doubled in the last decade, according to the statistics of the Council for Higher Education.

The number of candidates rose from 355 in 2008 to 759 in 2018. In 2018, 40% of the Israeli-Arab doctoral candidates were in the field of engineering and natural sciences and 40% in the field of social sciences.

In the same period, the number of Israeli-Arab students in master's degree programs rose by 90%.

Currently, 6.7% of Ph.D. candidates in Israel are Arab citizens of Israel, up from 3.5% in 2008. Though this rate is still significantly lower than their part in the general population - which stands at 20% - the Council of Higher Education's Planning and Budgeting Committee defined these statistics as a "revolution."

Most Arab-Israeli Ph.D. candidates study at Haifa University, which hosts 241 Arab doctoral candidates, followed by the Hebrew University, which hosts 131. In comparison, Ariel University has only 44 Arab students studying for master's degrees, and no Arab Ph.D. candidates.

The Planning and Budgeting Committee launched a program in 2012 (fully implemented in 2015) to make higher education accessible to the Arab public, which runs in 45 centers around the country. One of the program's aims is to increase the percentage of Arab students studying for a doctoral degree to 7% of the total number of doctoral candidates in the country, a goal which has nearly been met.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of Arab students studying for a bachelor's degree. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of Arab students studying for their bachelor's rose from 26 thousand to 47 thousand.

Arab students in bachelor's programs account for 16% of all bachelor's students in Israel, which is still significantly lower than their percentage in the general population within the relevant age group (26%).

Alongside the program to ease access to higher education for Arab citizens of Israel, the Council for Higher Education have also implemented controversial program to integrate the ultra-Orthodox community into higher education – a program which has been criticized due to gender segregation in classrooms and campuses.