Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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6 Teves 5760 - December 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UTJ MKs Demand Investigation of Universities' Double Budgets

by Eliezer Rauchberger

At a meeting last week dealing with the budgets of Israel's institutions of higher learning, the Knesset Finance Committee raised a demand for an immediate investigation of double budgets granted by government ministries -- mainly the Ministry of Education -- to institutions of higher learning such as universities. The demand was made by UTJ representatives MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Rabbi Meir Porush, as well as by Limor Livnat of the Likud. Professor Nechemiah Lev Tzion, chairman of the Council for Higher Education, also took part at the meeting.

During the discussion, it became clear that the institutions of higher learning receive double budgets: one source of funding is from the Committee for Budgetary Planning which allocates university budgets, as well as additional government ministries. The Education Ministry, for example, granted the Federation for the Development of Academic Education NIS 35 million last year, in addition to the Hebrew University's regular budget.

At the meeting, it also became clear that although the number of students studying in yeshivos is about equal to the number of university students, there are tremendous budgetary discrepancies. The budget for the institutions for higher learning is NIS 5 billion, plus an additional NIS 245 million, while the budget for the yeshivos is barely a tenth of that: only NIS 600 million.

At the meeting, Rabbi Gafni said: "Most of the large expenses of the institutions of higher learning are for high salaries earmarked for teachers and lecturers, which stem from extravagant benefits received by top-ranking university professors, including sabbaticals abroad, etc." He then turned to Professor Lev Tzion, chairman of the Council for Higher Education, and demanded a disclosure of the pay scales of the universities' top-ranking lecturers.

Rabbi Gafni also complained about the tremendous discrimination on the issue of development budgets for universities and yeshivos. He stressed that while the universities enjoy a very generous budget of NIS 118 for development, the yeshivos have no development budgets whatsoever.

Rabbi Gafni and Rabbi Porush also sent a letter to the Attorney General, Eliakim Rubinstein, stating that a number of months ago he issued a policy forbidding dual-subsidies for Torah institutions. They asked him to maintain the same policy towards all institutions for higher education.

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