Hyperpoliticised internationalisation in a pariah university: An Israeli institution in the occupied West Bank

Annette Bamberger, Paul Morris, Yaniv Weinreb, Miri Yemini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Internationalisation in higher education is often portrayed as a value-neutral intervention driven predominantly by economic motives yet advocated and prescribed for humanitarian purposes. In this study we investigate how internationalisation takes shape in an institution which is characterised by political controversy that hinders and shapes its internationalisation efforts; we explore the rationales for and enactment of internationalisation at Ariel University (AU), Israel's only university located in the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). We challenge the dominant framing of internationalisation in higher education and shed light on the nature, purposes and forms of internationalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-128
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


In February 2018, amid a storm of controversy, the Israeli Knesset voted (56 to 35) in favour of an amendment to the CHE law, dubbed the ‘Ariel University Law,’ that made AU subject to the jurisdiction of the CHE, abolishing the former CHEJS and extending regulatory control over the institution. This move applied Israeli civil law to the West Bank and was viewed by some as akin to annexation ( Lis and Tzur, 2018 ; Lazaroff, 2018 ). AU, now with 15,000 students and an academic staff of over 300 researchers (compared to 80 in 2003 and 217 in 2012 ( Davidovitch and Iram, 2014 ; Sinuany-Stern et al., 2016) ) has four faculties and operates 26 academic degree programs. Although it enjoys the same legal status in Israel as the other eight research universities, due to its location, AU is banned from participation in many international research agreements and funds which do not support Israeli research in the oPt. Notably, the European Union (EU) programmes, such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+; the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF); and the Israel-US Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) among others ( Gordon and Pardo, 2015 ). Thus, AU faces several distinct constraints which affect the nature and purposes of internationalisation. From the interviews of AU staff it emerged that the perceived constraints comprise four components: political and security issues associated with the location of AU; international bans; perceived sabotage of AU initiatives by other Israeli institutions; and lack of status and quality researchers.

FundersFunder number
BIRD Foundation
British Skin Foundation
European Commission
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation
Horizon 2020


    • Conflict
    • Enactment
    • Higher education
    • Internationalisation
    • Israel
    • Rationales
    • Strategies
    • The West bank


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