The Council for Higher Education in Israel has set a goal to increase the number of Israelis of Ethiopian origin enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. The initial target, which the council hopes to meet by 2020, is to increase the number of students from the community who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree to 1.7 percent of the student body, similar to their percentage in Israel’s overall population. Currently that rate stands at 1.54 percent, or 3,567 students. Only a tiny number of Ethiopian Israelis who have earned undergraduate degrees continue on to postgraduate degrees.
The initiative is a result of the struggle by Ethiopian community activists in recent years to integrate the community in all walks of Israeli life and the fact that responsibility for integration of Ethiopian students has passed from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry to the Council for Higher Education in Israel.
Over the past two years, the council has already begun promoting various programs to encourage more Ethiopian Israelis to continue their studies at the academic level. Now the council will combine separate programs it has already launched into a focused effort to achieve its goal by 2022, at which time progress will be assessed. The budget for the program stands at 36 million shekels ($10.3 million) a year, or about 140 million shekels a year through 2022.
The council said that thanks to the implementation of some components of programs so far, the number of Ethiopian Israelis enrolled in bachelor’s degree studies has risen from 1.35 percent of students in 2016 to 1.54 percent today. Nevertheless, this is still far lower than their percentage in the population. Only 0.64 percent of students in master’s degree programs are of Ethiopian origin and in the past two years there have been only 24 doctoral candidates of Ethiopian origin, which is 0.2 percent of all Ph.D. candidates (currently about 11,000).
As part of one component of the program, in 2017 steps were taken to find young people with potential after their release from the military or national civilian service, to provide them with individual and group assistance throughout their studies.
As part of the current phase of the program, the council has announced an increase of 20 percent in the number of scholarships offered and an increase in the amount of each scholarship – from about 15,000 shekels a year under the Absorption Ministry to about 22,000 shekels a year, and to remove various restrictions that impeded access to scholarships, such as an age limitation of 28. Ethiopian Israeli students are currently eligible to receive a scholarship from the Absorption Ministry of about 15,000 shekels.
Read more at Haaretz.