Ariel University’s Contribution to Opening the Gates of Higher Education in Israel

Nitza Davidovitch

Abstract

In Israel there are over 60 institutions of higher education. This figure includes eight universities, the youngest of which is Ariel University in Samaria. The case of Ariel University is an unprecedented case and that transitioned from being the largest public college in Israel to a full-fledged research university. This paper examines the approach to higher education accessibility in universities and colleges, and takes a close tool at the dynamics of a specific organization — a college that transformed into a university in Israel — four decades after the last university was established (Ben Gurion University) and its impact on the higher education system over these four decades. This institution paved the way for the possible pathway of colleges, founded on the principle of access to higher education combined with the goal of excellence, to become universities. The question that emerged from the test of time is whether Ariel University has achieved the goals its founders defined for it? Paradoxically, the college that evolved on the principle of accessibility and opening the gates to higher education led other institutions on the path to excellence and to genuine competition between colleges and universities both, and played a leading role in establishing the groundbreaking view that each type of institution has its own function: the function of colleges is to teach, while the function of universities is to do research, This development offers a potential scenario for the transformation of the higher education system in general, where policy is driven by market forces.