SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 04, 2012

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Ben Gurion University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Israel

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 4, a government body that accredits and oversees higher education institutions in Israel voted to forbid student registration for the 2013-14 academic year at the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, allegedly due to sub-par academic standards.
The Quality Assessment Subcommittee of the Israeli Council for Higher Education was tasked in November 2010 with evaluating the political science and international relations departments at eight colleges in Israel. In its report the subcommittee recommended that, among other things, Ben Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government hire more faculty and make changes to its curriculum. Despite objections to the report, the university began implementing these recommendations, and was initially commended by subcommittee members for its progress. The subcommittee nevertheless voted on September 4 to ban student registration. A petition protesting the decision was signed by 300 faculty members from Israeli academic institutions.
On February 12, 2013, following an appeal by Ben Gurion University, the subcommittee voted not to permanently close the department. However, the subcommittee recommended that the department hire 2-3 new faculty members that met specific criteria, and noted that it would continue to oversee the “quality and diversity” of the department’s curriculum. According to sources, Ben Gurion University was targeted because of the institution’s alleged left-leaning reputation, as other universities criticized in the subcommittee’s report were not subject to similar votes.