PM to unveil new UK-Israel academic links

Gordon Brown is to announce a groundbreaking initiative between the UK and Israel when he visits the country in 10 days’ time.

The JC has learned that the Prime Minister is due to reveal plans for an academic research and exchange programme administered by the British Council and supported by a range of partners, governmental, non-governmental and philanthropic.

They include the Pears Foundation and Sir Trevor Chinn, chairman of the Israel-Britain Business Council and newly appointed chair of the Mayor’s Fund for London. The programme is also being backed by UJIA.

The JC understands that the Pears Foundation will give around £100,000 a year over five years, with UJIA putting in an additional £50,000 annually towards the venture.

The British Council in Tel Aviv is currently in discussions with a number of other potential partners, including the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Israel’s Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport.

The programme will aim to enhance academic links and research between higher education in Israel and the UK. The initiative is yet to be finalised, but could be launched at the start of the coming academic year, subject to agreement between the parties involved.

The British Council said: “We are still considering a range of options to enhance academic links between the UK and Israel and hope to be in a position to make an announcement shortly and give a full description of planned new activities.”

Such an initiative could risk causing a funding squeeze for existing organisations, such as the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East, which was established in 1977 to forge closer links between political and social scientists in Britain, and their counterparts in the higher education sector in Israel.

Last month, the JC reported that the ASG is planning to send five working groups of British academics to Israel this year.

Neither Sir Trevor Chinn nor the Pears Foundation was ready to comment.

    Last updated: 9:03am, July 10 2008