Technion medical school graduate

The Technion tackled the challenge of integrating Israel’s Arab minority in its ranks, and now they are among the institution’s top students.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Israel’s top tech university has been at the forefront of recruiting more members of Israel’s Arab minority, the online journal Nature Research reported.

For many years Israel’s Arab minority has been under-represented in Israeli universities. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology tackled the problem by developing an empowerment model that is now being extended to all other institutions of higher learning in Israel through the Israel Council for Higher Education, the national board that manages Israel’s nine universities and scores of colleges.

The Technion identified and resolved two weaknesses without having to resort to a U.S.-style affirmative action program to fight discrimination. The university realized that Arab students coming out of high schools had specific deficiencies in their secondary-school preparation for higher education. Once they were accepted, there was a big problem adjusting to campus life in the face of cultural and age-related differences from the Jewish majority.

With Arabs being exempt from mandatory army service (although many do volunteer), they are often three of four years younger than their fellow Jewish students who have gone through military training.

To overcome the gaps, the Technion set up coaching programs for prospective students; workshops in core courses run by high-achieving, Arabic-speaking students; personal tutoring in social engagement, and professional guidance on self-management.

Over the past 16 years, the number of Arabic-speaking students and female Arab students at the Technion has increased by 200% and 350%, respectively.

The number of Arab students who excelled at their studies and have been deemed ‘outstanding’ soared by an amazing 1,800 percent, while the number of Arab graduate students rose 120 percent. At the same time, the dropout rate among the Arab students fell by 67 percent.

Located in the port city of Haifa, the 108-year-old Technion was established in 1912 and is Israel’s oldest institute for higher education. The prestigious school is ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide and recently established a joint facility in New York City in partnership with Cornell University.