Students Crash Educational Reform Committee Meeting

Students protesting the Shochat Cmte.; the meeting was suspended until students escorted out by security.

Dozens of students protested Wednesday morning during a meeting of a sub-panel of the Shochat Committee, which is discussing higher education reforms, at the Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Tel Aviv.

The students broke into the conference room, and disupted the meeting for 15 minutes, until they were finally escorted out by security.

The Shochat Committee is discussing tuition fees, differential wages for lecturers and ways to advance academic research, among other matters. The panel, appointed in November by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson and Education Minister Yuli Tamir, is due to submit its recommendations by June.

In the last five years, some NIS 1.2 billion have been cut from the budget for higher learning. According to data presented by Shochat on Tuesday, the number of students has risen by 52 percent between 2003 and 2005, while the state's investment in institutions of higher learning has declined by 14 percent during the same time frame.

The student associations are seeking to replace the Shochat committee by a committee headed by a retired justice in order to increase its impartiality. Students have held multiple strikes in protest of the committee, which they feel is likely to recommend a significant hike in tuition fees.

The Winograd Committee had recommended reducing tuition and creating the independent Shochat Committee to decide on any future increases.