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Sasi: special Telfed subsidies for SA students

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Israel is reaching out to Diaspora students to study in the country - so much so that it has pulled out all the stops to try and make studying in the Holy Land as a foreigner of Jewish heritage available in English and, for the most part, qualifying students study for the same cost, or less, than it would cost to study in SA.
by ANT KATZ | Nov 16, 2016

Between the Jewish Agency for Israel (Jafi), the Israeli government and Telfed (SA Zionist Federation - Israel), they have special and uniquely tailored study programmes for South Africans. Israel Centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town offer extensive information and advice on these issues.

The newest and most exciting development on bursaries for studies in Israel is the South Africans Studying in Israel (Sasi) scheme that has been put together with a huge amount of effort by Telfed. In this, its first year in operation, Sasi is financially assisting seven South African students to go to university in Israel.

Klein Dorron LoresTelfed’s fledgling Sasi scheme is co-funded by South African donors and Israel’s largest private university, IDC. It combines the Herzliya-based IDC’s international curricula in English with Telfed’s supportive services.


RIGHT: Telfed CEO
Rabbi Dorron Kline

“We are constantly fundraising among wealthy Jews living is South Africa,” says Kline. The programme is costing millions, he says, and is “expecting to be funding at least 15 students next year”.

The programme, he says, “is a game-changer for South African students. Now they can get affordable study in Israel in English without making aliyah.”

Telfed is also expanding its institutional relationships and will include accommodating engineering students at Tel Aviv University next year as well as Israel’s largest university, Bar Ilan. The following year, the 2018/19 academic year, they plan to include Ben-Gurion University.

The system works, says Telfed’s Kline, to cover the cost of the first year of a three-year undergraduate degree course. The Jewish Agency’s Masa Israel programme provides up to a US$10,000 scholarship in the first year. Masa is a subsidised gap year and study programmes for Diaspora Jewry to Israel. Since its founding in 2004, over 110 000 young Jews from more than 60 countries have participated in Masa Israel programmes.

In the second and third years, if the student does not choose to make aliyah, they would have to make up the gap left by Masa. Buy if they do make aliyah, the Israeli government contributes around $2,500 towards the tuition costs.

Sasi applies a needs-based test for eligibility for subsidised accommodation grants, while IDC has reduced its fees by up to 50 per cent (for Sasi students, based on financial needs). The grants include access to ulpan, preparatory studies if needed, youth counsellors and the support of Telfed’s full professional staff including counsellors, social workers and employment counsellors.

Kline visited South Africa earlier this year and presented the programme to hundreds of 11 and 12 graders and had dozens of potential participants registering for further information. Needless to say, all seven bursaries were allocated.

The chairman of the Cape United Jewish Campaign (UJC), Philip Krawitz, said: “It’s not just the financial support that makes the difference, it is Telfed’s staff and volunteers that provide the absorption framework and assistance for the students. It’s this added supervision that can put parents’ minds at rest when they send their children to Israel to study.”

Davi Nathan, an IDC graduate, spoke about his very positive academic and social experiences at the IDC. “I completed my MBA at the university and I am now going to work for Bloombergs in London. This shows that the academic degrees from the IDC are held in very high esteem,” he said.

Since the recent student unrest in South Africa, says Kline, Telfed has “seen a dramatic rise in families and young people contacting us or universities directly”. So much so, he told Jewish Report, that IDC extended registration deadlines for southern African applicants and have received 70 new applicants during this time extension, 45 of them since Succot.


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1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 01 Dec
    In the light of proposed decolonised education in SAand together with the low standard of education ( which feeds tertiary institutions) this appears to be a decent way for students to obtain education at the highest level.

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