Ariel University Center of Samaria Declared a University
July 17th, Ariel University Center of Samaria in Judea and Samaria was officially declared a university. It’s officially become the eighth university in Israel, the first in Judea and Samaria and the first to be declared a university since 1972.
Ariel University Center of Samaria, founded in 1982, was the Bar- Ilan University branch in Judea and Samaria. In 2007 the college changed its name and declared itself a university center, a move that was not acknowledged by Minister of Education Yuli Tamir and the Council for Higher Education. In 2008 the council announced that they would not recognize academic degrees awarded by the college. In 2010 the title “Ariel University Center” was recognized, however, it remained unauthorized to become a university, even though they have met all necessary criteria. Moreover, the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities objected to the idea of AUC becoming a university on the grounds that Israel does not need another university, and recognizing AUC as such will harm higher education by diverting government funding allocated for other universities.
AUC has a diverse population of students and faculty members, which includes Jews, Muslims and Christians. The majority of the students come from the lower – middle class, only 15% of the students coming from Judea and Samaria. AUC has the highest number of Ethiopian immigrant students, among all the higher education institutes in Israel.
The decision to acknowledge AUC as a university took place at Bar-Ilan University after a four hour meeting. The decision was made by the Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education with eleven votes approving and two apposing the idea.
The Minister of Education and Chairman of the Higher Education Council Gidon Sa’ar has approved of the decision. Danny Dayan, the chairman of the Judea and Samaria Counsel, stated: “This is a day of celebration for Israel, the Israeli academia, and the residents of Judea and Samaria”.