ISRAEL: Universities 'squandering' funds

Israel's universities are largely to blame for their dire financial straits, because they pay high salaries and benefits to staff without the approval of the Finance Ministry, according to a report released by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss last week. He recommended forcing universities to comply with regulatory oversight by freezing their funding until they agreed to allow the Finance Ministry to review their books, reports the Jerusalem Post.

Universities had accrued large budgetary deficits that were eight times what they reported, according to the report. Universities had also abused claims of academic freedom to "justify defective activity in administrative areas that have nothing in common with academic issues," Lindenstrauss said.

The report criticised the Council of University Presidents, the Council for Higher Education's Committee for Planning and Budgeting, and universities themselves for accumulating a more than NIS17 billion (US$4.2 billion) deficit. Funds earmarked for building international scientific relations were used for other purposes, including to pay retired academic staff, the families of deceased professors and senior administrators, said Lindenstrauss.
Full report on the Jerusalem Post site