Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to School

Michal Korach

The new academic school year was opened a few weeks ago and tens of thousands of students have returned to their studies. In the past academic year of 2009-2010, there were 244,100 students in Israel, not including the Open University and branches of foreign universities operating in Israel. Of them, 51% were enrolled in universities, 38% in academic colleges and 11% in teaching academic colleges.

Higher education in Israel has been undergoing extensive reforms since the 1990s following a series of reforms instituted by the Israel Council of Higher Education (MALAG) designed to increase access to higher education. As part of these reforms, college-preparatory schools and academic colleges were established, many of them outside of the large metropolitan areas.

Over the past decade the number of students in academic colleges has almost tripled (172%) whereas the number of students in universities and teaching academic colleges has increased at a much slower rate (10% and 17% respectively). Overall, the number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education has increase by 43%.

Academic colleges in Israel may be either public or private. Private colleges are not budgeted by the state, charge higher tuition and generally have lower admission requirements as compared with universities. Private colleges generally offer programs that are in high-demand such as law, economics, business administration, computer science and behavioral sciences.

The estimates for institutions of higher education in Jerusalem are 40,000 students, of which half are enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Other large advanced schools in Jerusalem are Machon Lev, Betzalel, Hadassah College and the Jerusalem College of Engineering.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nature and Parks

Michal Korach

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority oversees 67 sites in Israel, all of them open to the public, some free of charge. In 2008, these national parks saw 7.9 million visitors, of which 68 percent were Israelis and 32 percent were foreigners. The number of visitors to Israel's national parks has been growing steadily. It has more than doubled in less than 10 years, from 3.7 million visitors in 2001, to 6.1 million in 2005 to 7.9 million in 2008.
The parks in northern and southern Israel received the greatest number of visitors (40% and 27%, respectively), but this could be explained by the fact that these districts are the largest and have more national parks and thus had a greater influx of tourists. In fact, some 75% of all of Israel's national parks are found in the North and South. The Jerusalem District, which contains the Judea and Samaria region, received 12% of all visits to Israeli national parks.
The data clearly shows that tourists prefer parks with natural water sources. The most popular nature parks were the Banyas Springs, Ein Gedi and Beit Yanai Beach. The most popular historical sites were Masada, Caesarea and Qumran.
The Jerusalem district has nine national nature and historical sites, which received 944,600 visitors in 2008 - 43% of them foreign. The most popular nature site in the Jerusalem region was Absalom (stalactite) Cave, which was visited by 198,000 people that year, most of them Israelis. The most popular historical site, Qumran, was visited by 389,300 people, most of them foreigners.