The Council For Higher Education
The Council for Higher Education (hereinafter – the CHE) is a statutory corporation that was established by the Higher Education Law 5718-1958 (hereinafter – the CHE Law) and it is the State institution responsible for higher education in Israel, carrying out its functions according to the authorities vested in it by this Law. The Council for Higher Education draws up policy for the higher education system in the State.
The innovation in this legislation was the fact that the Knesset wanted higher education in the country to be under the exclusive authority of an independent and autonomous body that would determine policy and reach its decisions after professional and pertinent discussion.
Two important factors are reflected in the CHE Law: the first – safeguarding the autonomy of the institutions of higher education to conduct their academic and administrative affairs, within the framework of their budgets; and secondly – the directive that at least two-thirds of the Council members will be selected because of their personal standing in the field of higher education. These two principles have served as the basis for the Council’s being for many years.
From the Council’s inception and up until now, there have been eleven Councils. In March 2012, the 12th Council for Higher Education commenced its term of office.
The Composition of the Council
According to the CHE Law, the Council will be composed of no less than nineteen and no more than twenty-five members, including the Minister of Education. Members of the Council are proposed to the President of the State by the Government; at least two-thirds of them must be “persons of standing in the field of higher education” who have been recommended by the Minister of Education after consultation with the accredited institutions; one member is the Chairman of the National Union of Students in Israel and another is the Chairman of the Israeli Students’ Organization. In the Council there will be proper representation to all types of accredited institutions. Council members are appointed for a term of five years.
The Minister of Education serves as Chairman of the Council.
The Powers of the Council
The main powers of the Council for Higher Education are:
A. To grant a permit to open and operate an institution of higher education;
B. To accredit an institution as an institution of higher education –
The President of the State grants a Certificate of Accreditation to an institution accredited as an institution of higher education following approval by the Government. A notice of the accreditation is published in the Official Gazette of the Israeli Government;
C. To authorize an accredited institution to award an academic degree;
D. To approve studies under the academic auspices of an accredited institution;
E. To allow an institution to use a name or designation, the use of which requires approval according to the Council of Higher Education Law;
F. To submit proposals for the consolidation, expansion and improvement of accredited institutions and in the matter of academic cooperation among them with regard to teaching and research;
G. To submit to the Government, through the Planning and Budgeting Committee, proposals to develop higher education and for State participation in the budgets of the higher education system according to the needs of the society and the country, and recommendations to the Government regarding the establishment of additional institutions of higher education;
H. To grant a license to branches of foreign institutions of higher education;
I. To grant recognition of degrees awarded by accredited Institutions in Judea, Samaria and Gaza;
J. To carry out an assessment of the quality of fields of study in institutions of higher education.
How the Council Operates
The Council for Higher Education has established various rules that deal with aspects of its work, such as:
• rules for granting a permit to open and maintain an institution of higher education;
• rules for the accreditation of institutions of higher education;
• rules for the recognition of academic degrees;
• rules for authorizing an accredited institution to award a recognized academic degree;
• rules for revoking the accreditation of an accredited institution
The Application Process
An institution that wishes to maintain academic studies and to award an academic degree, whether it is an accredited institution or has not yet been accredited, must submit its application to the Academic Division of the CHE (Council for Higher Education).
Following a preliminary examination by the Academic Division, the application is forwarded to the CHE’s Planning and Policy Division, Budgeting Division, Division for Wages and Terms of Employment, and, where necessary, to the Legal Bureau. These divisions undertake detailed examinations and, upon completion, forward the application to the Planning and Budgeting Committee for discussion, accompanied by a detailed memorandum prepared by the professional staff. The PBC discusses the application and forwards its recommendations to the plenum of the Council for Higher Education.
The Council appoints subject-area committees that carry out academic examinations of the application, in accordance with the criteria set out in the Council for Higher Education’s rules and decisions. Recommendations of the subject-area committees are presented to the Council for Higher Education together with the PBC’s opinion. The Council for Higher Education reaches its decision on the request based on these recommendations.
In June 2003, the Council decided to establish a system for the assessment of quality, in addition to the examinations undertaken prior to accreditation of new institutions or new units, that will, in the first stage, carry out periodic assessments of quality in existing fields of study, in all relevant institutions at the same time.