The Bloomberg Innovation Index 2020 ranked Israel as the number one for research and development intensity for three years in a row.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Bloomberg Innovation Index 2020 ranked Israel as the number one for research and development intensity for three years in a row.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Want to study in Israel? Here's what you should know

  • Students looking for high-quality education, where they can take an active role in their studies and learn from some of the best professors in the world, should look no further than Israel, says Professor Yaffa Zilbershats.
By Nilesh Mathur
UPDATED ON FEB 09, 2021 05:21 PM IST

In today's increasingly competitive world, there is a clear edge in the job market for students who have acquired high quality education with good international exposure. The US, the UK and Australia are some of the well-known destinations for higher education. However, students are today exploring many new locations in search of what suits them best. Israel is one such location.

In an email interaction with Hindustan Times online, Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, Chair, Planning and Budgeting Committee, Israeli Council for Higher Education speaks about the benefits of choosing Israel for higher education, some courses Indian students should consider for studying there, things to consider before planning to study in Israel and much more:

What in your opinion makes Israel an attractive destination for students from around the world?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Students looking for high-quality education, where they can take an active role in their studies and learn from some of the best professors in the world, should look no further than Israel. With highly ranked universities, faculty members engaged in cutting-edge research, and innovative study programs, Israel is a prime choice for any student interested in furthering their education.

Israel is synonymous to high-tech development, innovation and entrepreneurship and is home to more high-tech start-ups per capita than any country. The Bloomberg Innovation Index 2020 ranked Israel as the number one for research and development intensity for three years in a row. This ecosystem of ‘innovation and development’, supported by a strong higher education system with world-reputed universities and colleges, makes it an attractive destination for students from around the world. It has emerged as one of the top destinations for quality, distinctive and engaging education.

In addition to this, Israel offers its students an appealing ecosystem beyond academics. The country boasts of vibrant student cities that offer both traditional as well as modern experiences for students to indulge in. These include the holy city of Jerusalem, culturally rich Haifa, the desert city of Be’er Sheva and the vibrant, metropolitan Tel Aviv.

The enriching student experience comes with affordable tuition, numerous scholarships and a safe, welcoming environment for students.

How will Indian students benefit by choosing Israel for higher studies?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Israel is a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship and therefore there is a lot to learn, innovate and explore. Additionally, Israel specifically is an attractive student destination for Indians as it offers many cultural similarities and a homely & conducive environment along with a plethora of opportunities to network and cultivate life-long friendships.

Israel is a global leader in STEM education, making Science and Technology one of the most developed segments in the country. We have state-of-the-art and highly advanced research laboratories in our universities that act as a great ecosystem for students to learn in. These advanced research universities are ranked among the global top 50 academic institutions in scientific disciplines including chemistry, entrepreneurship, computer science, engineering, mathematical and natural sciences – hence providing students an opportunity to jumpstart their research and careers.

We have over 1200 Indian students enrolled in various courses across universities. As India witnesses budding start-ups focused on emerging technologies, Israel helps students by developing their skill set, teaching them critical and creative thinking and problem-solving. Programs in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Life Sciences, Agricultural Technology, Water Management, Sustainable Energy, Cyber Security and Engineering are quite popular amongst Indian students. The various courses not only equip them for today, but also develop them as the leaders for a sustainable tomorrow.

Would you like to name some of the courses or areas of study for which Indian students should consider Israel?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Known for our research-intensive and practical education, our higher education institutes are well-equipped with world-class, state-of the-art infrastructure for students to learn and develop in. Ranging from short-term and undergraduate degrees to graduate as well as post doc programs, Israel offers a wide range of English taught courses that will be suitable for Indian students. Students can consider a course in an area such as Agriculture, Hydrology & Water Management, Biotechnology and Geological and Environmental Sciences that will equip them for problems of the near future – scarcity of natural resources and the need of sustainable solutions. Another area in which programs are popular is Cyber Security – courses that will equip with students to deal with threats that come with the advancement of computer technology or choose a course in Conflict Research, Management and Resolution or Law & Policy that will develop them as the global leaders and policy-makers of tomorrow. In addition to this, Israeli universities also offer several courses in Engineering such as Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil Engineering – programs especially designed for students after completing their Senior School Certificate from a recognised Board in India.

Israelis are known as out-of-the-box thinkers; and this sense of innovation is rooted in Israel’s higher education institutions, with many academic programs targeted for students who want to succeed in business and entrepreneurship. Some programs include opportunities to conduct internships in leading companies from around the world, giving students the opportunity to receive career skills and build up their resumes.

Israel also offers students an unparalleled opportunity to acquire an in-depth understanding of the political, social and economic dimensions of the Middle East and the international diplomatic arena. The birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel is the perfect place to study religion and especially Jewish Studies, with some of the world’s scholars based here. Archaeology in Israel is also very strong, with students having the ability to touch ruins from thousands of years ago.

Compared to the US, the UK and Australia how expensive is education for International students in Israel?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Israel offers world-class education with highly competitive tuition fees structures. Many research programs at Israeli universities are designed with low or no tuition fees while offering research stipends. Other programs including bachelor and master’s degrees have great scholarship opportunities for International students. While an Undergraduate degree would start at $4,000 per year, a master’s degree would start at $5,500 per year. PhDs are generally scholarship-based.

Both the Council of Higher Education and the Higher Education institutions in Israel offer several scholarships for outstanding students as well as for early registrants. These include - the Council for Higher Education’s PhD Sandwich Fellowship and the Excellence Fellowship for International Post-Doctoral Researchers provided by the Council and the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities, among several others.

What are some of the important things students should consider before planning to study in Israel?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Israeli universities and colleges are very diverse and all have their own unique initiatives, research focuses and innovative study programs. Students should look into the different institutions and find the one that is best for them. The Study in Israel website has a search engine with study programs offered in English in Israel that can be useful to them. PhD candidates should also look for a supervisor that engages in research that appeals to them when considering where to carry out their doctoral studies. Each faculty member has their own website on the universities’ sites that can provide insight into their research focus.

Another thing that is Indian students should know when coming to Israel is to Never be afraid to ask questions! Israelis are very helpful people and our academic institutions are fully equipped with support services for international students, with English-speaking staff who are available around the clock. Just ask and people will be happy to assist. Once admitted, Israeli universities provide information and support regarding housing, visas, and all things the students will need in the country.

Many of the universities offer scholarship opportunities, so students should be in touch with them to find out availability.

Most importantly, students considering studying in Israel should be prepared to explore the country, soak in the sites, taste new foods, learn about new cultures, and meet new people. Israel is very diverse and its population is very welcoming!

Finally, would you like to tell readers about Israel’s ‘New Campus’ vision?

Professor Yaffa Zilbershats: Life has changed with the internet revolution and has offered a huge amount of easily accessible knowledge and information. Therefore, we saw a need to update the conventional methods of classroom teaching & learning in light of this changing reality.

The ‘New Campus’ vision is a flagship of the Council for Higher Education. Through the different elements of the program, we attempt to create a modern approach to academia on campus – and develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem with top interdisciplinary minds who have a potential to change the world while studying.

The vision of this program is to create academic campuses in Israel that are adjusted to the needs of the 21st century while encouraging openness and entrepreneurship and removing barriers between faculties, researchers, and students, different disciplines, and between academia and industry. The New Campus vision encourages interdisciplinarity and digital learning, enabling students to learn different subjects in new manners, while striving to foster a more diverse, international student body. This will in turn inspire creativity, and encourage entrepreneurial thinking at the heart of the campus.

At the core of the program, we have led the establishment of Entrepreneurship and Innovation centers in academic institutions through the country. These centers help instill a spirit of entrepreneurship on the physical campus, create ties between industry and academia and provide a platform for students to develop, promote, and implement their ground-breaking entrepreneurial ideas.

We are certain that the New Campus vision will be highly beneficial for students with a zeal to learn, gain direct-industry knowledge and deal with real-world problems.

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