After talks with Israeli institutions of higher learning, the University of Maryland at College Park is opening the doors for increased academic collaboration with Israeli universities for both UM faculty and students.

Until recently, students from the University of Maryland at College Park who sought to study abroad in Israel had to enroll in an Israeli university, pay the international Israeli tuition rate, which could be higher, and could potentially face difficulties in transferring credits from the Israeli university to the University of Maryland. Despite such obstacles, University of Maryland at College Park students are presently studying in over 20 different Israeli institutions, yet the stumbling blocks can at times be frustrating. However, all of this is set to change, with a move which will make it significantly easier for University of Maryland students to study in Israel.

During an eight day trip to the Middle East, President Wallace Loh of the University of Maryland at College Park visited Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Technion with the aims of furthering collaboration. This will expand opportunities for joint research related to entrepreneurship and innovation, in addition to cutting the costs and obstacles associated with studying in Israel for University of Maryland at College Park students.

As part of the agreement the University of Maryland reached with Israeli institutions, it will be much easier for students at the University of Maryland at College Park to be able to study in Israel. The agreement also includes faculty exchanges and research collaborations in the field of biotechnology and medicine with Israeli universities. Debi Goldshleg, a student at the University of Maryland at College Park, stated, “Getting courses approved, credits transferred — it’s making the process a lot easier.” According to Shibley Telhami, an Israeli Arab professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, “Undergraduate students simply should not graduate from college without a semester studying abroad. It’s crucial to being prepared for the future.”

The State of Maryland, as well as the University of Maryland system, views Israel as a good international partner that has a lot to offer. “As our economy strengthens, we know we must look beyond our borders for new avenues for trade and investment, particularly those countries – like Israel – that have invested heavily in supporting entrepreneurs and growing an Innovation Economy,” says Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “Israel is often called ‘start-up nation’ for its abundance of entrepreneurial ventures stemming from university research,” says UMD’s Loh. “Maryland has been recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the most entrepreneurial state in the nation. There is a natural fit with our academic partners in the Middle East. Our goal is to make the most of these possibilities, and bring home tangible benefits for the citizens of Maryland.”

By Rachel Avraham