A false perception that Britain is hostile towards Israelis has led to fewer students coming to study, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts has claimed.
Mr Willetts said closer research links and increased academic exchanges with Israelis were needed to reverse the decline.
During a three-day trip to Israel this week, he met education, science and technology ministers as well as Israeli university representatives and leading scientists.
On Monday he told academic leaders at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “Emphatically, there are not boycotts of Israeli academics, or Israeli students, or British-Israel academic exchanges. Those would be completely wrong, and there is no UK university that is boycotting Israel.”
The following day was joined by 80 delegates from 25 British institutions as he opened a bilateral conference on stem-cell therapy at Haifa’s Technion as part of a £10 million, five-year British-Israeli research project. More than 300 scientists discussed the use of stem cells for tackling diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said: “Building a stronger partnership between the two countries will be to the benefit of both, and has the potential to transform lives around the world.”