UK students reject chance to study in Israel


British graduates are missing out on scholarships to study at Israeli universities because of students' negative attitudes towards Israel.

For more than 40 years two educational trusts administered by the Anglo-Israel Association (AIA) have awarded scholarships for graduates to undertaking research at Israeli universities and for Israelis to study at British institutions.

"We have no problem in attracting brilliant young Israeli graduates keen to study here," said Baroness Ramsay, chair of the academic boards that select the candidates.

"Our difficulty is that there is a real dearth of British graduates wanting to continue their studies in Israel.

Last year the AIA awarded only three scholarships for study in Israel. This year it has had no applications at all. In earlier years they would have as many as a dozen.

The latest escalation of the conflict in Gaza will exacerbate the problem, she said. "In the past, British graduates would jump at the opportunity of obtaining scholarships for further study at Israel's universities."

Lady Ramsay, who served abroad as a senior officer in the British intelligence service MI6, said UK recipients of the scholarships, most of whom were not Jewish, "come back with a much more accurate perspective of Israel's situation and become marvellous ambassadors for the country".

By contrast, there is no shortage of Israeli applicants to continue their studies at British universities.

"We have so many enormously qualified young Israeli graduates applying that we cannot meet the demand," said Lady Ramsay.

"Both Israel and the UK benefit so much from these educational interchanges that it's a great shame we don't have sufficient financial resources to increase the number of scholarships we grant."

Ruth Saunders, the executive director of the AIA, confirmed that the future of the scholarship schemes was in doubt. Additional funding was urgently needed.

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