The UK Task Force hosted a roundtable lunch and discussion with Professor Edriss Titi, from Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE), for the UK Friends of Israeli Academic Institutions to learn about its strategy for enhancing access to higher education for Arab undergraduate students and explore opportunities for partnership.
In 2012 Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) launched a Six-Year Plan to enhance access to higher education for Arab citizens. Increasing successful integration of Arab students into higher education is widely recognised as necessary for closing socio-economic gaps, improving Arab participation in the advanced labour market, strengthening Israel’s economic growth and promoting social cohesion. Currently, Arab students represent only 12% of the undergraduate population (less than half of the eligible age group), and far fewer study fields in high-demand.
Among the numerous programmes included in the CHE’s Six-Year Plan, the Irteka Scholarship Fund for Arab Undergraduate Students is the first-ever scholarship fund designated for Arab students, which offers a 1:1 match-funding opportunity with the Israeli government. The fund removes a financial barrier for 650 undergraduate Arab students each year, encourages study in selected fields and aims to increase the number of qualified Arab students studying in fields with high labour-market potential, where Arabs have traditionally been under-represented.
Professor Edriss Titi is the Chairman of the Irteka Scholarship Fund Steering Committee and a Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Born in the old city of Acre in Israel, Prof. Titi studied at Acre’s Terra Sancta School, later earning a BSc in mathematics magna cum laude in 1979 from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and an MSc in mathematics with distinction from the Technion in 1981.