What do Students Like to Study


What Do Students Like to Study What are students studying this year as the University of Haifa enters its 25th year as an accredited institution of higher education in Israel?
First-year students are apparently concerned with the society and perhaps their own place in it. The most popular department among the new undergraduates is Sociology and Anthropology. In fact, this department replaced General Studies at the top of the chart, the first time in some years that the latter department--which took fourth place in popularity this year--was not the most in demand among entering students.

Sociology was followed, in order, by Economics and Political Science. All three departments are in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Mathematics, which continues its leading attraction among those who come to study here. This faculty currently enrolls 51 percent of all degree seekers this year. Israeli students in general, not just at the University of Haifa, consider the three departments among the most prestigious fields of study. Despite the size of the departments, competition among candidates for admission to them is very strong.

Entering students in the Faculty of Humanities, which contains 38 percent of all degree students, preferred, after General Studies, Middle East History, Land of Israel Studies, and General History, in that order.
The School (soon to be Faculty) of Education counts 18 percent of the student body. The School’s Department of Education was the fifth most favored department by first-year students in the University.

The Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, the newest Faculty, which includes the School of Social Work, has enrolled 10 per cent of all students. The Faculty of Law numbers about 5 percent of the students. (The percentages add up to more than 100 percent because students in the School of Education are listed both with that School and with the Faculty in which they are studying a specific subject.) Coincidentally the School of Social Work and the Faculty of Law attracted the same number of students this year. Because of past-year enrollments, General Studies has the largest number of undergraduate students registered overall, followed by Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and Education. Undergraduates comprise three quarters of the University’s student body.

At the Master’s degree level, the picture changes. The field most favored, by far, is Education, which at the beginning of this academic year numbered more than twice the number of “second-degree” students (as the term is translated from the Hebrew) as the department next in popularity for advanced studies, Political Science. Third place in this list goes to Jewish History.

Each of these M.A. departments represents, of course, a different “ownership”: Education is one of three units making up the School of Education; Political Science is in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Mathematics; and Jewish History has its home in the Faculty of Humanities.

Another favored field of study for the Master’s is Social Work. Next in popularity is Psychology, followed by Sociology. First-year M.A. students make up almost 21 percent of all newly entering students, a percentage that has been on a steady upswing over the past three years.

The number of new doctoral candidates has also been swinging upward, at a sharper angle than the new Master’s students. Though in absolute terms the number of first-year Ph.D. students is still quite small, in percentage terms it has leaped by more than 50 percent over last year’s figure and more than doubled the number who started out two years ago.

Two other percentages have remained steady over the past several years, keeping pace with the increase in student body. The percentage of minority students studying here for the various degrees, 15%-16%, which is their percentage in the total Israeli population; and the percentage of new-immigrant students, 9%-10%. Compared with the start of the 1995/96 academic year, each of these categories showed a slight rise in both percentages and absolute numbers at the beginning of this academic year.

The Haifa campus and the University’s one associated college Oranim-School of Education of the Kibbutz Movement--started this year with a total of 11,721 degree- and diploma-pursuing students, of whom 4,416 were new to their program of study. The regional colleges formerly under the University’s academic supervision are now independent institutions in accordance with the policy of the Ministry of Education.

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