How does Jerusalem fare as an "academic city" in the Israeli context? This is the question that lies at the heart of the AcademiCity project, an initiative of the Jerusalem Development Authority in cooperation with the Municipality of Jerusalem and charted by JIIS. The project has the overlapping goals of making Jerusalem an attractive option for students in Israel and then encouraging them to settle in the city after concluding their studies. This project also falls within the greater Marom Plan aimed at boosting Jerusalem's economic development, and to which JIIS serves as an advisor, monitoring its achievements and evaluating its outcomes.
JIIS' first assessment
of AcademiCity has just been released (in Hebrew); there will be an annual assessment for the course of the five-year Marom Plan. These reports are built around on a set of indicators that were specially devised for the project on the basis of updated data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The long-term goals of AcademiCity include:
Significantly increasing the number of students studying in Jerusalem by 2020;
Boosting Jerusalem's relative number of graduate students compared to other cities around Israel;
Attracting a productive and high-quality population to Jerusalem, primarily by encouraging Jerusalem graduates to remain in the city and become part of its workforce;
Ensuring Jerusalem's role as a leading academic city and as an attractive option for students from both Israel and abroad; and
Through higher education (directly and indirectly), creating some 3,000 jobs in the field of higher education in the city by 2020.
The indicators will, over time, allow the research team to observe the "quantitative evolution" of the student scene in Jerusalem.
Following are some of the observations that appear in the first report:
- Fluctuations in the number of students registered annually in Jerusalem are comparable to those found in all of Israel.
- There is a countrywide shift away from universities in favor of academic colleges. This too is true for Jerusalem; and yet, the Hebrew University still has the largest number of students studying in the city, at 53%. By contrast, in all of Israel the number of students attending colleges has overtaken the number found at the country's universities.
- Jerusalem is showing a tendency to specialize in teacher training colleges: approximately a fifth of students attending such colleges choose to do so in Jerusalem.
The team also found that fewer students are opting to undertake graduate studies in Jerusalem compared to Israel, which is seeing an overall increase in the number of graduate students. Interestingly, though, there has been an increase in the number of Masters students in Jerusalem, but not doctoral students. Again, this reflects a preference for colleges which now offer Masters programs.
Jerusalem's academic "strength," they found is in the prestigious programs that it offers, which are limited to a relatively low number of students – primarily medicine, paramedical studies, and the sciences offered at the Hebrew University. Interestingly, though, fields that see great demand elsewhere in Israel – law, social sciences and business studies – are not high on students' preferences in Jerusalem.
As noted, this is the first in a series of reports, which will conclude with a list of recommendations. For the time being, there is an indication that if Jerusalem wants to boast a place of honor on the academic map and increase the number of students in the city, the range of programs available that have the potential to attract students should be expanded. In parallel, it is important that the prestigious programs available in the city today continue.
The research team for this report comprised Yair Assaf-Shapira, Eitan Bluer, Inbal Doron and Yael Israeli, led by Dr. Maya Choshen.