Israel Political Brief May 23, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with National Union of Israel Students Leaders from Around the Country on the Occasion of National Student Day

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu Meets with National Union of Israel Students Leaders from Around the Country on the Occasion of National Student Day

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 5-23-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, on the occasion of National Student Day, in his office, met with National Union of Israel Students leaders from around the country, led by NUIS Chairman Irzik Shmuli. Education Minister Gideon Saar, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, Deputy Minister for Student Affairs Gila Gamliel and Deputy Minister for Senior Citizen Affairs Leah Nass also attended the meeting.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We have a great commitment to higher education. It starts with investments in resolving students’ problems in order to help them learn and lead the State of Israel in all fields – security, society, the economy, science and others.” The Prime Minister also commented on the Government’s actions to lower the cost of living for students and citizens: “Competition is the most social thing there is. We are working to increase competition and thereby lower the cost of living. See what has happened to the price of cellular phones, for example. Also in the housing sphere, we are working to break the state’s monopoly on land in order to lower housing costs. Additionally, we are working on behalf of young couples, some of whom are students, and in the coming months we will implement the law on free education from age three.”

NUIS Chairman Shmuli noted the complete cooperation between the Government and the NUIS in the fields of education, public transportation, bringing students and senior citizens closer together through voluntary community projects, and advancing cultural issue. “I have been active on behalf of students in various frameworks for seven years and there has never been a partnership like that with the Education Minister. There are also similar partnerships with other ministers.

Perhaps there are areas in which we agree less but given the major reform in higher education, the Sheshinski report, the recent welcome news in the cellular phone sector, we also know how to show gratitude and we appreciate these things very much. It is clear to us that when so many ministers are working on behalf of the students, there is a guiding hand from above and this is not a coincidence. Therefore, Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you personally.”

Education Minister and Council on Higher Education Chairman Saar informed those in attendance that the next meeting of the Council, he intends to submit for approval new benefits that have been formulated for students serving in the IDF reserves. The benefits will be in regard to eligibility to be absent from classes, postponement of courses and assignments, eligibility to take exams at later dates, extending studies, etc. Minster Saar added, “The great change in higher education is the multi-year plan that was launched in August 2010. Higher education is moving forward in impressive fashion while strengthening excellence and increasing accessibility. Today, students are more involved in the higher education system, which will continue to strengthen and move forward.”

Transportation Minister Katz noted that over the past two years, his ministry has instituted many improvements and major discounts in public transportation for the student public in order to encourage the use of public transportation.  He said, “The Transportation Ministry has even expanded the system of discounts on all bus lines and on the railways, to all academic institutions in which students learn.  It has also upgraded and improved lines to all institutions of higher learning and the various campuses.”

Culture and Sports Minister Livnat said, “The student public in Israel is an important public. It is the human future of Israel in which we must invest. It is a public active in culture and sports and it is my intention to work to enhance cooperation with students so that culture and sports in Israel are accessible and available to them. This year I initiated basic scholarship grants for students from the periphery who study at schools for the arts around the country and I intend to consider ways to expand them. The ministry also supports higher schools for the arts at a cost of NIS 20 million per annum.”

Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Youth, Women and Students Gamliel described the various actions being led by her office, including a year’s free study at academic institutions in the periphery, the construction of an additional 10,000 residential units, and expanding the student village in Lod. She said, “The fact that the Prime Minister has – for the first time – appointed a deputy minister to deal with students’ affairs speaks for itself. It provides students with a channel for direct dialogue with the Government and has led to many achievements. Investing in Israeli youth is not an expenditure but a national investment. We are working to lower tuition so that it will depend on contributing to the state and to various social projects. Thus, we will be able to help students and they will be able to help us, the population.”

Deputy Minister Nass updated those in attendance on the success of the initiative to award scholarships of up to NIS 5,000 to students who volunteer in various projects and assist Holocaust survivors, and on the success of the ‘students for senior citizens’ program, which was created in cooperation with the NUIS. This was in order to promote students as agents of change in Israeli society, strengthen senior citizens and enhance the link between young people and the older population. “Thanks to the joint activity by students and senior citizens we are creating an important bridge between the generations.”

Main points of activity by the Netanyahu Government on behalf of students

* NIS Seven billion investment in higher education in the framework of the multi-year plan to promote excellence and increase accessibility;

* Plan to establish centers for research excellence and to bring back scientists from abroad;

* Recognizing students who serve in the reserves and in social frameworks;

* A free first year of study at academic institutions in the Negev, Galilee, Judea and Samaria, Ashkelon and Jerusalem;

* The construction of 10,000 additional housing units as student dormitories;

* Gradually expanding the student village in Lod;

* Amending the students Rights Law – easements for pregnant and postpartum students, and for those undergoing fertility treatment;

* Public transportation discounts: 50% on all Israel Railways lines for those holding student fare cards and 30% for those who do not; 50% discount on buses whether by single-ticket purchase, fare cards or electronic cards;

* Upgrading and improving lines to institutions of higher learning and the various campuses, with special emphasis on students’ needs in the framework of the greater Tel Aviv area transportation reform;

* Culture and Sports Ministry support for higher schools of the arts, at a cost of NIS 20 million per annum;

* Basic scholarships for students from the periphery who learn at schools for the arts around the country; and

* Scholarships in the framework of the “students for senior citizens” plan which includes seven projects that involve students in the community in exchange for grants of up to NIS 5,000.

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