The successes attributed to the Ariel University Center of Samaria, which have led to it becoming an actual university, have angered those who oppose the very advancement of a university in Samaria, as well as those whose sole motivation is to prevent the development of another university in Israel and who have tried blocking it every step of the way. This is an outrage.
The Ariel University Center of Samaria was temporarily recognized as a university by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria after the Israeli government decided on May 2, 2005, to examine whether the institution was worthy of becoming a university - under the reasoning that the issue was of "national importance."
In July that year, the deputy attorney-general ruled that the authority to make such a decision fell on the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria. As a result of that decision, and as a condition to it becoming recognized as a university, a committee of inquiry was created, comprising six senior professors from six universities.
The committee recommended temporarily recognizing the institution as a university for a period of three years. This recommendation was passed on to the Budget and Planning Committee, which deals with the division of funding between the various universities and colleges in Israel. The committee examined the recommendation and in 2006 declared that there was no room for another university in Israel in the next five years. In light of the committee's ruling, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria adopted the findings, changed the temporary recognition period from three to five years, adopted the academic standards the institution was required to meet and appointed the six professors as a committee to oversee the process.
The Ariel University Center met all of the requirements demanded of it. After the five-year period ended, the accompanying committee of six professors unanimously declared that "the objectives imposed on the Ariel University Center by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria during the temporary recognition period have been completely fulfilled, and then some," and recommended granting the institution recognition as a full-fledged university from July 15.
The granting of this recognition is not only natural but warranted after a seven-year academic process. The decision of the Budget and Planning Committee to ignore the results of the process as well as its own guidelines is strange and unjust to an extreme degree.
The committee chose to serve the old hegemony, controlled by the cartel-like heads of the seven existing universities, who act according to their institutions’ narrow interests and try to prevent the development of other institutions of higher education in Israel at the expense of students and teachers. This was expressed in the letter they published last week, and it is outrageous.
We completely reject this corrupt attempt to prevent us from permanent recognition after the process we went through. We expect Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) not to succumb to the cartel of university heads and to adopt the conclusions of the committee, which examined precisely the question of whether or not the Ariel University Center is worthy of being a university – and decided unanimously that it is. We are confident that the minister will faithfully serve his office.
The writer is the presiding president of the Ariel University Center of Samaria.