University of California students might be headed to study in Israel for the first time in six years.
The University of California is currently in the final stages of negotiating with the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to reinstate the Education Abroad Program, which was suspended in 2002 following the placement of Israel on the State Department’s travel warning list.
“We expect that applications to the program will be available sometime in the summer of 2009, and students will begin studying during the fall of 2009,” said Chris Harrington, director of national media communications in the UC Office of the President.
In April 2002, 27 students were recalled from study abroad programs in Israel in response to escalating violence in the Middle East, according to a UC newsroom press release.
“This is not the first time we’ve had to do this,” Harrington said. “The EAP program also temporarily shut down activities in China following the Tiananmen Square massacre, in the Middle East during the Gulf War and in Indonesia during a period of civil uprisings.”
According to statistics published by the Institute of International Education, which has conducted a survey on study abroad flows since 1985, for the last ten years the Middle East has recorded the second lowest overall number of study abroad students from the United states. The only host region consistently ranking below the Middle East for U.S. student participation is North America.
U.S. student numbers plummeted to an all time low in the 2002 to 2003 school year, when less than one percent of students studied in the Middle East, but they have climbed steadily ever since to 1.2 percent in 2006 to 2007.
“By reopening this program we’re hoping to regenerate interest in an area that can provide unique cultural and academic opportunities for students and staff,” Harrington said.
“Other UC programs in the Middle East are located in Turkey and Egypt,” said Inez DeRomana, principle policy analyst of Safety, Security and Health Affairs for EAP.
It is UC policy not to sponsor study abroad programs in countries with a travel warning, however in recent years this policy has been subject to a number of revisions.
An exception was granted in the case of Israel, “contingent upon implementing certain provisions pertaining to the university’s ongoing monitoring and management of risk,” according to a UC newsroom press release.
The press release also stated that in order to adequately fulfill these contingencies the UC “now has access to the services of a leading corporation specializing in risk management technology, integrated crisis response and the analyses and assessment of intelligence and changing conditions for regions around the world.”
“For security reasons we can not name that corporation,” Harrington said, “but we’re very pleased with their services, they provide us with intelligence and information in a number of locations across the globe.”
EAP currently operates academic programs in 34 countries at 121 universities.
“The number of EAP programs has remained relatively stable over the past several years” DeRomana said.
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached email@example.com.