Bennett, University Heads Agree on Council of Higher Education Replacements

Association of University Heads presents education minister a list of names to take places of council members who resigned in protest at his policies.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a meeting, February 16, 2016.
Moti Milrod

On Tuesday the Association of University Heads presented Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who chairs the Council for Higher Education, with a list of university representatives from which he can select who will serve on the council. The parties agreed on a series of measures concerning the appointment of new council members, following the resignation of six members, all university representatives, in protest over the firing in January of deputy council chairperson Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron and the appointment of Dr. Rivka Wadmany Shauman to replace her.

Association of University Heads Chairman Prof. Peretz Lavie presented Bennett with a list of 13 candidates to represent universities on the council, which oversees higher education in Israel. It was also decided to increase the universities’ representation on the council from six to seven, to be chosen from the list.

Bennett also plans to appoint another public representative to replace a public representative whose term has ended, who will have an academic profile and standing in the field of higher education and will be selected in consultation with the university heads. It was further agreed that the proposal that the minister intends to present to the council for future selection of a deputy chairperson will be made in close coordination with the university heads.

It should be noted that in any event, seven university representatives had to be appointed to the Council for Higher Education, because in addition to the six who just resigned, Prof. Yonina Eldar of the Technion also stepped down last October for personal reasons. Thus the “increase” in university representatives is not really as significant as is being made to appear.

A joint statement issued by the Association of University Heads, the Council for Higher Education and Bennett’s office said that the education minister “thanked Prof. Lavie and the university heads for their cooperation in working together, and described the list of candidates as distinguished, professional and worthy. The list includes leading academics in the field of higher education, who can contribute to the work of the Council for Higher Education and its various committees.”