Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein lauded the decision as “a Zionist step, important and correct – a welcome addition to medicine and Israeli academia.”
By Aryeh Savir, TPS and World Israel News Staff
The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria on Wednesday evening unanimously approved the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Ariel University. It will be the first medical school in the region and the sixth in Israel.
Preparations for the establishment of the faculty are already underway. Construction began in June 2017, and the first students will begin their studies as early as November.
The Planning and Budgets Committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, which oversees and accredits Israeli colleges and universities, had recently voted against the establishment of medical school, citing a conflict of interest. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, however, said the vote was not binding and the issue could be brought to a new vote by the Judea and Samaria council.
The university is home to more than 15,000 students and 300 faculty members. In the field of health sciences, the university already offers a pre-med program and 30 research labs studying a variety of communication disorders, physiotherapy and nutritional sciences.
The establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Ariel University, promoted by Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, encountered many obstacles and significant opposition from political elements that did not want to see the development of Samaria’s largest city. Other Israeli academic institutions had also attempted to maintain their control over the field of medical education.
‘Politics should not be mixed with academics’
Ariel Mayor Eli Shviro welcomed the Council’s decision, saying that “this is a message at the national level. Politics should not be mixed with academics.”
“This correct decision enables thousands of students to learn how to save lives” and elevate the stress surrounding the lack of doctors in Israel, he added.
Shviro congratulated the Council for “transcending foreign political considerations, the same unwarranted considerations that tried to sabotage the process and prevent the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine in Ariel.”
“I invite young people who are interested in studying medicine to arrive at the best university in Israel, in Ariel, the capital of Samaria,” he concluded.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein lauded the decision as “a Zionist step, important and correct – a welcome addition to medicine and Israeli academia. Good luck and good health!”
According to the Israel Medical Association, Israel faces a severe health-care crisis largely due to a lack of both licensed medical personnel and training vacancies for students. Accordingly, students often move abroad to study medicine or are likely to choose from more lucrative professions.