Centre and periphery in higher education: The case of Israel

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Higher education systems all over the world are currently occupied with the crucial problems of equal opportunity and accessibility in the tertiary level. The paper focuses on the perennial issue of center and periphery in higher education. It takes Israel as a case in point. Like many other Western countries Israel is undergoing a speedy process of what is termed 'massification of the higher education system'. The inauguration of fully accredited public and private colleges as well as the academisation of the teaching profession brought about a dramatic increase in the enrolment of degree programs. During the 1980s and the 1990s the number of students in Israel tripled and the odds of attending a higher education institution grew by 50 per cent. The paper poses several pertinent questions in this respect, a) Has the recent transformation in the Israeli higher education system really increased the odds of higher education attendance? b) Has it indeed reduced social selection processes in higher education? c) Has it really equalised opportunity to attain access to the most desirable fields of study? The paper tries to answer these questions first by analysing available data published by the CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) and second by analysing data pertaining to the largest public college in the country. It arrives at a cautious conclusion that the system did increase the odds of higher education. It reduced social selection in higher education. It also enhanced opportunities to attain access to the most desirable fields of study. Peripheral populations definitely benefited from the establishment of a binary system of higher education in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-457
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Education Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • Accessibility to tertiary education
  • Equal opportunity
  • Higher education
  • Peripheral populations
  • Social selection


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