Masa Israel has announced the launch of a new capacity-building initiative to encourage study abroad and academic exchange in Israel. The program will provides $50,000 grants to U.S. universities wishing to develop and execute academic partnerships with institutions of higher learning in Israel.
Currently, Israel ranks 22nd out of the top 25 study abroad destinations for students from the United States, according to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 2009 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. In addition, while the number of American students who spent a semester or year abroad increased 8.5 percent in 2007-08 from the year before, those who chose to study in Israel still made up only .9 percent of the total.
American students often prefer to study abroad through university-sponsored overseas programs, which (until now) have not always included Israel as an option. The hope is that by offering these grants to American universities, it will encourage study abroad in Israel by increasing the number of programs available to students through their home institutions. These partnerships will offer students the full support of their home institutions by helping them more easily meet prerequisites and by facilitating a seamless transfer of credits for their studies in Israel to their home university.
The new grant initiative marks a significant investment in Israel as a study abroad destination. The grant program will focus on creating targeted academic opportunities in Israel in majors such as business, environmental studies, engineering, psychology, the arts, law, medicine, and other subjects that are generally neglected in study abroad curricula.
Several prestigious universities, including Harvard, the University of Maryland and the University of Miami have already established pilot programs at Israeli institutions. In addition to providing them with financial support, Masa Israel will work closely with each institution’s study abroad office and partner institution in Israel in marketing and recruiting students nationally and on their home campus.