Monday, October 27, 2008
Universities, Finance Ministry renew talks
After two-week stalemate in negotiations, sides make another attempt to reach accord bridging financial gaps in order to allow academic year to begin on time
Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch
Just a week before the academic year is scheduled to begin, the Finance Ministry and the Council for Higher Education's Planning and Budgeting Committee are preparing for another round of negotiations on the budget for Israel's institutions of higher learning. On Monday the two sides will attempt to bridge the financial gaps currently prohibiting the year from kicking off on schedule, after nearly two weeks of stalemate in talks.
The Council of University Presidents (CUP) announced last week that the universities would not begin the year due to a deficit in their budget. CUP Chairman and president of the Hebrew University, Prof. Menachem Megidor, claimed that the announcement did not constitute a strike.
"The universities are currently incapable of functioning and beginning the academic year," he said. "Closing down the research universities is a disaster for us and the students. If the $125 million promised by the government is not transferred to us we will have no choice, we will not be able to begin the year as scheduled."
Recently the CUP launched a mass email to 150,000 students across the country, in which it states that "unfortunately under the current circumstances following negotiations with the Ministry of Finance, we cannot begin the academic year."
A month earlier the student union announced it would support the CUP in whatever decision it made, even if it meant penalizing students by postponing the academic year.