UC Reinstates Abroad Program in Israel

    The University of California announced last week it would reopen its study-abroad program in Israel, lifting a ban placed on the program in 2002 following the U.S. Department of State’s placement of the Middle Eastern country on its travel-warning list.

    The university is currently engaged in discussions with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at the Rothberg International School regarding the reimplementation of the program, slating to begin enrollment in Summer 2009 for Fall Quarter of that year.

    “In today’s richly interconnected global economy, a study-abroad program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem would provide a unique academic and cultural opportunity for UC students,” said UC Education Abroad Program acting Executive Director Michael Cowan in a statement. “UC once again will be connected to a leading higher education institution in Israel and is continuing to provide international opportunities to students.”

    UC policy prohibits the university from sponsoring education-abroad programs in any country listed on the Department of State travel-warning list.

    In March 2006, after vocal student protest to the policy, the UC Board of Regents asked a special committee to examine the university’s position regarding education-abroad programs, particularly in countries where the Department of State had issued danger advisories.

    In August of this year, university officials directed an ad hoc working group to determine whether re-establishing education abroad in Israel was a good idea. After reviewing the security risks associated with the program, the group concluded that the university could make an exception to its policy. The regents then decided to reinstate the program, provided its proceedings be closely monitored.

    UC spokesman Chris Harrington said the university will survey political activity in Israel to ensure that students remain safe.

    “We have a number of tools to gain intelligence in specific countries,” he said. “We will be able to ascertain the political and social climate in order to ensure safety and security.”

    The Hebrew University is Israel’s first institute of higher education and is comprised of students from over 50 countries. All those participating in the University of California’s Education Abroad Program in Israel will be required to take a summer course in modern Hebrew, followed by a semester or year enrolled at Hebrew University.

    Participating students will still be subject to strict regulations while abroad. According to the State Department, American travelers have been subject to interrogation and thorough searches by Israeli authorities upon entering or departing the country.

    Travelers with Arabic last names, unaccompanied females and those who request that their passport not be stamped have often been delayed, experiencing particularly close scrutiny by border enforcement.

    Cowan is now negotiating terms for the full implementation of the study-abroad program in Israel, and information about the application process will be made available at a later date.

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