The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will now recognize matriculation scores from high school students taking exams under the aegis of the Palestinian Authority.
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The new policy is expected to significantly increase the number of East Jerusalem Palestinians who attend Hebrew University, the first Israeli university to accept PA matriculation results.
The university has recognized high school test scores from outside Israel, but never the Palestinian matriculation exam, which is known by its Arabic name, the tawjihi.
Previously, the tawjihi was only accepted for applicants to Hebrew University’s pre-college program, or for applicants to the university who also scored very well on Israel’s psychometric exams additional tests taken after high school akin to the U.S. college admission exams.
With Israel’s erecting of its West Bank separation barrier, Hebrew University has seen growing interest among East Jerusalem Palestinians.
About two years ago, Hebrew University opened a pre-university preparatory program geared specifically for Palestinians. Last year, 67 students finished the program, but 125 students are already registered for next year.
In recent months, the university’s admissions department agreed that any Palestinian student scoring over 90 on the Palestinian matriculation exam would qualify for most Hebrew University programs, though some require a score a high as 95.
The new policy is considered a pilot program that will be reexamined based on students’ performance.
For her part, Oshrat Maimon, the policy advocacy director at Ir Amim, a non-profit organization promoting what its website calls "a more equitable and sustainable" Jerusalem, noted that it had contacted the university on several occasions on the issue. "We hope that the university's recognition of the jawjihi, which is recognized by the best universities around the world, will lead to improved educational and employment opportunities for Palestinian university students from Jerusalem" she said.