ISRAEL: Treasury 'hostile towards universities'

Israel's former Finance Minister Avraham Shochat, who headed a committee tasked with formulating reform in higher education, has slammed a Treasury decision to recall US$44.7 million given to universities, reports The Knesset's Finance Committee held an emergency meeting on Wednesday, following the Finance Ministry's demand that several universities retroactively return funds allocated to them in the last academic year.

The Treasury demanded that the universities immediately refund NIS 150 million ($44.7 million), and threatened not to funnel the next academic year's budgets, which amount to NIS 770 million, due to universities' failure to implement the Shochat Reform. The reform has been delayed by disagreement between Education Minister Yuli Tamir and the Finance Ministry over Tamir's promise to student unions that recommendations regarding a future rise in university tuitions would be cancelled.

Shochat criticised the decision as "unreasonably hostile towards the higher education system". Heads of the universities and student bodies were outraged by the decision, calling it scandalous.
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