The foundations of higher education in Israel were established in the 1920s, with the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925, after numerous difficulties and opponents were overcome. Not only the pioneers of higher education were plagued by these difficulties; It appeared that they were an integral element in the history of every other institution that has since sought recognition as a university in Israel. Every institution that sought to penetrate the gates of the invory tower has encountered fierce opposition and the perpetual argument that Israel needs no more universities. Surprisingly (or, perhaps, not so surprisingly), each time, the heads of the existing universities at the time stood in the first row of such opposition. Any attempt to establish a new university led them to make declarations about the dangers inherent in establishing yet another institution of higher education in Israel. Recently, on December 24, 2012, Israel’s eighth university, Ariel University, was declared. This was the first university established since the 1970s. This paper examines the nature of arguments (financial, political, academic, or other) against establishment of new universities in Israel and changes in these arguments over time and explores what an institutions needs to be recognized as a university. To address these and other issues, we first review the regulatory approach of Israel’s higher education system and illustrate the traditional opposition against establishment of universities in Israel using the case of Ariel University. We conclude with an outline of a scenario for the establishment of Israel’s ninth university, and those after it.
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