Out of 67 academic institutions in 2011/12, seven are universities, one is an open university, 36 are academic colleges, and 23 are teachers’ colleges.

 Higher education in Israel-Selected data 2010/11


Students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba (Photo: MFA)

(Communicated by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics)


In the last two decades, higher education in Israel has been undergoing a process of expansion. In 1989/90, Israel had 21 institutions that granted academic degrees, with a total of 88,800 students. In 2010/11, there were 66 institutions with 297,800 students, an average annual increase of 5.9 per cent. The reason for the increase is mainly the opening of academic colleges in the 1990s and at the beginning of 2000. In the past year, the number of new undergraduates did not grow, but there was an increase in the number of students studying for a master’s degree.

No. of students, according to degree & type of institution 1948/49-2010/11 (Absolute numbers)

 Higher education in Israel-Selected data 2010/11

Out of 67 academic institutions in 2011/12, seven are universities, one is an open university, 36 are academic colleges, and 23 are teachers’ colleges.

Out of 251,800 students who attended universities and colleges in 2010/11, 75% (189,200) studied for a bachelor’s degree (55,300 of them new students); 20% (50,800) were master’s students; 4% (10,600) were in doctoral programs; and the rest were studying for a certificate (such as a teaching certificate or a certificate of translation). Compared to the previous year, the number of bachelor’s students rose 2.4%, but the number of new students increased by only one-half percent. The number of master’s students rose 7.5%, while the number of doctoral students remained the same.

In 2010/11 125,000 students attended universities (up 0.9% from the previous year), 96,700 students attended academic colleges (an increase of 5.6%) and 30 thousand students attended teachers’ colleges (2.7% more than in 2009/10). In addition, 46 thousand students studied in the academic track of the Open University1 – 42,900 in the undergraduate program and the rest in the master’s program.

Most higher education in Israel is publically funded and only 13% of the students study at private colleges, compared to 75% in Japan and Korea and an average of 8.2% in EU countries.

Sixty percent of Israeli high school graduates eventually enter first degree (bachelor’s) programs.2 This is significantly higher than in 2000 (48%) and similar to the situation in OECD countries (59%). The number of new doctoral students in Israel is lower than in OECD countries (2.1% compared to 2.6%, respectively).

Areas of study

The most popular areas of study in Israel are social sciences, management and law. In 2009 these areas accounted for 46% of all students, the highest among OECD countries (except for Turkey), in which the average is 34.6% for these subjects. The number of students who chose to major in the health and social welfare fields was lower than the average in OECD countries (7% vs. 12%).

In 2010/11, the median age3 of the students studying for a bachelor’s degree was 25.1 years; for a master’s degree 30.7 years; and for a doctorate 33.7 years.

Men, women, and various population groups

Among high school graduates, more women continue on to higher education in Israel than men (66% vs. 53%). Of the students studying at academic institutions in 2010/11, 56.5% were women. Women constituted the majority in all degree programs: bachelor’s 55.9%, master’s 59.2%, doctorate   52.4%, and certificates 76.9%.

Among 251,800 students in 2010/11 at academic institutions, 11% (27,400) were Arabs, constituting 13.6% of the students in bachelor’s programs at universities and 7.7% of the university students studying for a master’s degree.

Most desirable fields of study and acceptance requirements

At the universities, the fields of architecture and urban construction, medicine and dentistry were the most in demand, proportionate to the number of places available – for every student accepted, there were four applicants. In contrast, in general liberal arts and the social sciences, almost all of the applicants were accepted.

Also in the academic colleges, the demand for architecture and urban construction, as well as for fashion design and visual communications, was greater than the supply – for every student accepted, there were three applicants. In banking, logistics, construction engineering and insurance, there were only 1.2 applicants for every one who was accepted.

Law: At the private colleges, three-fourths of the more than 5,000 applicants to study law were accepted. At the state-supported universities, only half of about 1,500 applicants were accepted.

Bachelor’s degree

The proportion of recipients of a bachelor’s degree in Israel is 37%, similar to Sweden and Hungary, compared to an average of 38% in OECD countries. In Israel, as in the OECD countries, this represents a rising trend – from 29% in 2002 to 37% in 2009 in Israel, and in the OECD, from an average of 31% to 38%.

The proportion of recipients of a master’s degree in Israel in 2009 was higher than in the OECD countries – 14.3% compared to 12.7% – and similar to that in France and the Netherlands.

The proportion of recipients of a doctoral degree in Israel was 1.3%, similar to Belgium, Canada and Korea, compared to an average of 1.5% in the OECD countries.

The average length of study for a bachelor’s degree is 3.8 years. In engineering and education, the length of study averages 4.5 years, while business administration, the social sciences and natural sciences average 3.5 years.

Among students that began studying in 1999-2001, 77.4% have completed their studies and received a degree. In the fields of medicine, para-medical professions and law, 90% received a degree; in the fields of liberal arts, architecture and design, about 70%; and in education, only 60%.

In Israel, as in OECD countries, higher education influences employment and salary level, which is 70% higher for those with an academic education compared to non-academics. Men and women who have a degree in computer sciences have the highest monthly salaries over time, while those with a degree in education and liberal arts have the lowest.

1 The Open University is unique in the Israeli academic scene. There are no requirements for acceptance and students can take individual courses or an entire degree-granting program.
 2 Israelis on the average start higher education later than high school graduates in OECD countries because of army service.
 3 Median age – half of the population is older and half is younger.