National Plan for Expanding Access of Arab, Druze and Circassian Students to Higher Education in Israel: Interim Report on the Support of Students as of the End of the 2015-16 School Year

The Arab, Druze and Circassian populations (hereafter: ADC) are better represented in higher education than in the past, but are still underrepresented compared to their Jewish counterparts, and face various challenges during their studies. The Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC) of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) developed a multi-year plan to expand access to higher education for ADC, including academic, social and financial support for them. The plan is implemented in all PBC-budgeted institutions of higher education where the student body includes ADC students (27 institutions).

The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute is supporting the plan with an evaluation study examining its implementation and outcomes. Based on interviews, work plans and a first-year student survey (2014/15), this interim report focuses on the implementation of the components of support for first-degree applicants and students, provided up until the end of the 2015-16 academic year and on the students’ achievements at the end of the first year.

Selected findings:

  • Implementation of support components : At the end of 2015-16, all the institutions offered at least one of the three main components (the support in pre-academic preparatory programs, the preparatory program for admitted applicants, and the academic and social support programs), while 21 institutions offered all three.
  • The earmarked budget allowed the institutions to recruit additional professionals, to develop new types of support and to expand, sustain and professionalize the support predating the plan.
  • Students’ perceptions of program contribution : More than two-thirds of the participants in the different components reported the support contributed to a great or very great extent.
  • Students’ experience : Most students reported that they are able to cope with the required learning skills, such as reading the assigned materials and writing exercises and papers. However, fewer reported that they were able to locate study materials independently, actively participate in class, and read material in English.
  • Program outcomes at the end of the first year : By the end of the first year, only 56% had completed at least 30 credit points (out of 40 credit points, the standard requirement for completing a full year of study). This, as the former finding, might suggest that many students will need additional support during their coming years of study.
  • Subgroups : Bedouin students reported greater needs in all areas. As of the 2015-16 school year, one of the colleges received a supplemental budget to provide additional support for this population.

The findings were presented to and discussed with CHE staff, members of the steering committee of the program, and the implementation teams at the institutions. They are serving as a basis for program improvement and decisions about the programmatic directions in developing and implementing a support apparatus for students from the ADC populations.

The study was commissioned by the PBC of the CHE, and funded with its assistance.