Israel opens arms to SA, Diaspora students

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Tertiary education in Israel is structured completely differently from what we are used to in South Africa and it is important to understand how this system works and what bursaries and other assistance is available to prospective students.
by ANT KATZ | Nov 16, 2016

Firstly, there are state-operated institutions and private institutions. Until now, the Israeli support systems (Government, JA, Telfed) were only able to give financial assistance to students studying at state institutions. Now, however, Telfed has structured a bursary scheme with the largest private “university” - IDC (Inter-disciplinary Centre in Herzliya) and more is planned.

Aviad Sela, JA shaliach in South Africa and head of the Israel Centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg, told Jewish Report that there are so many opportunities for South African students to study in Israel that it is possible to tailor education packages to suit individuals.

jafi - aviadThe JA is continuously finding new ways of getting the information to students and their parents.

RIGHT: Aviad Sela

One of these, said Sela, is the “Israel Encounter” programme which will this year see 170 young Jews complete their high schooling in 2017 or 2018 in Israel, touring that country to look at the academic opportunities the country has to offer. This includes visiting tertiary education campuses and speaking to Israeli students.

“Another door we are opening,” says Sela, “is a partnership with Telfed and its new SASI bursary programme which has been very well received.”

The various categories of higher education institutions as recognised by the Israeli Student Authority are:

  • Universities;
  • Colleges and academic institutions;
  • Colleges and institutions of higher education in the fields of science, engineering, and liberal arts;
  • Academic institutions for pedagogical and education studies;
  • Schools and colleges of arts;
  • Schools of nursing and healthcare professions;
  • Dental hygienist training school;
  • Technical colleges and practical engineer training schools.

Regarding qualification standards between South Africa and Israel, Sela says that while most South African Jewish day schools write the IEB matric exams, a university entrance South African pass is not sufficient for most Israeli institutions. The only “university” that accepts a South African matric certificate is the IDC (Inter-disciplinary Centre in Herzliya).

Sochnut Israel CentreHowever, international students are assessed on a psychometric test basis and, says Sela, usually manage to gain entrance; even if the institution feels that they need to catch up, this service is also provided. Most of the major institutions offer undergraduate studies in English, and most masters’ degrees can be completed in English.

Another option for foreign students planning to start studies in Israel - where the academic year begins in September or October - is to avail themselves of a complimentary student authority pre-academic programme after matric and before studying starts.

These include “mechina” (HEBREW U SA MECHINA - PDF) which prepares foreign students to study in Israel, ulpan or TAKA programmes (ISRAEL STUDENT AUTHORITY TAKA PROGRAMM - PDF). All of these are designed for foreign students and end before the beginning of the Israeli academic year.

The systems work well and responses are received very quickly, and in English. Contacts can be made through Jafi, Telfed or the institutions themselves.

Further details




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