Press Release

IDI on the Bennett-Council for Higher Education Agreement

IDI's Yohanan Plesner: 'We need to look at this from a long-term perspective'

IDI's Yohanan Plesner: "We need to look at this from a long-term perspective."

Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) President Yohanan Plesner congratulated Education Minister Naftali Bennet and the heads of Israel's universities on their announcement Tuesday that they had reached an agreement regarding the appointment of new members to the Council for Higher Education.

Last month, six members of the Council for Higher Education announced their resignation in the wake of a growing rift between members of academia and Bennett.

"It is wonderful that the council will return to functioning," said Plesner. "Nevertheless, in order to avert future crises and guarantee that the future will be bright for higher education in Israel, we need to take advantage of the coming year to discuss issues and reach conclusions about the best way to select the members of the Council."

He continued: "Higher education is a foundation of Israeli society and it gives Israel a qualitative advantage over other states. Higher education also contributes greatly to Israel's strength. Therefore, the test of any future framework will be its ability to guarantee the independence and excellence of the higher education system, while giving the Education Minister the ability to set the direction of the council's policies and oversee their implementation."

Following the six resignations, IDI sent a letter, signed by Plesner, Vice President Mordechai Kremnitzer and researcher Prof. Hanoch Dagan, to Bennett recommending he change the way members of the council and the Committee for Planning and Budgeting are chosen. The goal of the recommendations, according to the writers, is to constructively advance changes that will protect the independence of the higher education system and prevent crises like the current one from erupting in the future.

Here are some of the recommendations:

1. Change the council's composition.
2. Establish a search committee.
3. Change how the minister chooses committee members.
4. Have the attorney general be involved in monitoring the selection process.
5. Appoint a deputy head of the council and give that person specific powers.
6. Have representatives of the public on the committee.

For a full explanation of the above recommendations (in Hebrew), click here>>

To read more about the agreement, click here>>