Student protest is almost synonymous with the word university in the U.S.A., Europe, and the Far East. Israeli students have been less active in the social and political spheres. This is perhaps due to the fact that Israeli students enter university as more mature individuals at a later age, after three years of army service. They are anxious to get on with their lives. The campus atmosphere is thus less intense than it is outside Israel.
The main reason for the long strike that hit all Israeli universities at the beginning of this past academic year an attempt by the students to cut tuition by fifty percent and to ease other, related costs of academic studies. Annual tuition at all Israeli universities is about $2,500. A year’s education, all expenditures included, costs the students an average of $10,000-$15,000. The students also demanded that their compulsory army service make them eligible for reduced tuition and that the government expand the “Perah” program, which now offers payment of 43%-50% of one’s tuition for counseling disadvantaged high school pupils several hours a week.
The universities could not be of assistance to the students. Tuition covers only 20%-30% of the budgets of these institutions of higher education as it is. The University of Haifa is particularly sensitive to any tuition reduction that is not compensated for in some manner, since its revenues from student fees accounts for 32% of the annual budget, more than at any other Israeli university.
Hunger strikes, mass demonstrations, roadblocks, and hundreds of police arrests gained the students much public sympathy; nevertheless, the warring sides—the government and the students--could still not be brought to successful negotiation. After much disappointment and bitter frustration, when the students themselves were on the verge of a split in their ranks as to the common objective, the strike leaders decided to return to classes without