ARIEL University, located within an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, has received state funding surpassing all other state universities by $24.47 million, according to an investigative report by the financial daily publication, Calcalist.
The university received a sum of ISL162million (US$42million) through contractual engagements with state institutions. Although only achieving university status four years ago, their funding has surpassed every other university in Israel.
The Calcalist investigation indicates that the funding is funnelled to Ariel through contracts with the state, obtained by preferential treatment in bids for contracts to provide various services or skipping the bidding process altogether. The substantial investment in Ariel University by the Israeli government encourages students from Israel to occupy the settlement by offering generous scholarships, housing accommodation, and other donations, violating international law.
Ariel University was founded in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim as a regional public college in 1983. In 1991, the then college, moved to the Ariel settlement offering academic studies under the sponsorship of the accredited university of Bar-llan.
Gideon Sa’ar, the former Israeli education minister, was one of the main proponents of granting the institution university status. Israel’s Higher Education Council concluded that this would be illegal because of its infringement on the agreements of the 1967 border layout.
In an elusive response, and with pressure from the right in the Israeli political system, the government proposed appointing 6 individuals to a newly formed ‘Council of Higher Education of Judea and Samaria’ which ultimately recognized Ariel College as a full-fledged university. At the time of the status change for Ariel University, the government encouraged other Israeli universities to ‘go embrace
their little sister.’
This scheme was not warmly welcomed and angered a number of heads of educational institutions across Israel. While many other universities in Israel are suffer from increasing budget deficits, funding has been given to Ariel University.
Speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, the head of one of the universities, who was asked by the government to support Ariel University, stated that ‘we are boiling mad at the things going on there. We struggle daily with immense difficulties to keep some of the world’s most reputable and best-known academic institutions afloat. And then the state goes and establishes a special council for higher education, especially for a university that has never received any recognition in the field of research.’