Students from other countries in the world, including the US, will no longer be able to enroll in Israel’s medical courses according to a new ban by the Israeli government.
The decision came on the heels of the 2018 recommendation of Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) that a large number of Israelis are forced to travel to Europe for medical school after not being accepted into Israeli schools due to international students. Only about 900 Israelis are admitted to medical school per year but the Health Ministry is now planning on increasing the number to 1,200.
As it stands, the schools affected by the decision include Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Ben-Gurion University’s (BGU) Faculty of Health Sciences in Be’er Sheva, and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine in Haifa.
In response to the ban, BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said to the media, “There was no choice. We need more Israelis to study medicine here. BGU will close the New York office where foreigners applied for admission in Beersheba. Our American supporters will surely be disappointed by the decision, and the medical school will maintain its English instruction to help immigrants and returning Israelis who prefer studying in that language. But those who worked in our international school will teach Israelis instead of foreigners. Nothing will change.”
Former BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi added, “I was very enthusiastic about these programs for foreign students when I was BGU’s medical dean and president, but in recent years, I saw the problems of training enough Israeli physicians and realized that there is no choice,” she said. “It was the right decision not to accept foreign medical students in the future. I think there is no choice but to support the decision but I say it with a heavy heart.”