Prof. Yehuda Hayuth
President, University of Haifa
The government’s economic reform program,
which has passed its first reading in the Knesset and has been the cause, or
excuse, of a nationwide strike of public service employees and certain other
sectors, has not left the country’s seven
universities unscathed. I’ll
not go into the merits and demerits of the government’s plan; but there is
no denying that
In the past two years, the government, which finances about half of the universities’ budgets, has deducted some $150 million from its allocations to this item. This translates into a reduction of 10%-15% in most budgets, not least ours. If that is not bad enough, the government’s proposed emergency budget now on the agenda calls for still further cuts, totaling $30 million.
In my capacity as chairman of Vera, the Council of University Presidents, I have been trying as hard as I can to minimize this cutback. Nonetheless, I am mindful of the general economic situation and know that it is unrealistic to think that it won’t reflect severely on the universities.
The University is already in the midst of a three-year budget-cut scheme that will, on the one hand, lead to more efficient running; on the other hand, it will also reduce the level of services provided to both students and researchers. We have been forced to eliminate positions on both the academic and the administrative level. Collective agreements with the unions, however, put the younger staff at a disadvantage when it comes to letting staff go—and the implications of this for the long term are unkind. The University has been forced to tighten up on its priorities in regard to both academic and physical development. On the surface, such a step seems positive. A deeper look shows that it means the elimination and non-implementation of many viable programs.
Although this budget situation will compel the University to finance new development at the expense of existing activities, we feel strongly on the issue of the continued development of new academic programs. We cannot and will not surrender to financial pressure, to take a break as it were for a few years. Such a hiatus can only have adverse consequences for the future status of the University.
Thus we are proceeding with plans to redirect our emphasis to the
area of welfare and health studies and evolutionary biology.
The University’s immediate past objectives emphasized computers and
high tech, areas of research and study that were boosted by and culminated
in the move to our campus of the IBM Haifa research center, that
corporation’s largest laboratory outside the
Before ending this column, I would like briefly to digress somewhat
although the subject to be addressed has implications for our budget and
development. On a fundraising
trip to the
The claim was posited by some
that all this really has nothing to do with
Individual voices have spoken up against such attempts.
But it was with consternation that I learned that in the main the
major Jewish organizations have not taken any forceful stand.
Worse yet, Jewish faculty on
On the narrow level of self-interest, our research relationships and
fundraising efforts are duly impacted by these venomous actions and
immobility in their face. On a
broader level, world Jewry must stand guard and even take the offensive
against such noxious activity. I
write these words on
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