Why Does Israel Seek Out International Students for Internships?

Many countries’ official institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been actively recruiting foreign students to their universities for various internships and “advanced training” in recent years.

In this day and age of globalization, it is objectively difficult for higher education to develop further without a mix of foreign and local students. Foreign students already have some knowledge; they are familiar with the peculiarities of the technology used in their country, as well as many areas of national science in which they wish to specialize abroad. In the course of their internship or study abroad, they tell their teachers and students in their host country about it. The foreigners share their knowledge as well, there is mutual enrichment. When there are foreigners in the group, there is a completely different atmosphere and a different attitude to work.

Of course, young people not only study abroad, they also soak up the spirit of the host country like a sponge, get to know it, live its problems, culture, and often find their destiny there and create families. At various times, up to 60 percent of the leadership of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were educated in the USSR.

Explaining the reason for an internship or study abroad, many foreigners point to the financial benefit, since in some countries education is very expensive. For example, in the US, the average cost of education per year is about $40,000, plus spending on housing and more. In a number of countries, such as Russia, China, and Israel, training is much cheaper. In addition, in many countries you can find academic schools that are very popular and have a high international ranking.

As for the countries that host foreign students, many do so because of the current demographic problem and the reduction in the number of school graduates that occurs every year. In order not to reduce the number of teachers, it is logical to invite foreigners to the vacated places…

It is now quite natural for young people to come to study in another country. If at the beginning of this century there were about 2.5 million people studying abroad, now there are more than 5 million people getting higher education outside their countries. And the Chinese are leading the way: more than 300,000 Chinese citizens are studying in the United States alone.

Today, the US, the UK, France, Israel and a number of other developed nations have a purposeful policy of attracting foreign students. Such countries have a system of adaptation of university graduates, according to which the best ones are not sent home but they try and make them stay in the host country and give them time to find a job.

This policy, among other things, is certainly a manifestation of the “hunt for brains,” which is now even more popular in the world than the hunt for technological secrets… The US, for example, earns over $40 billion a year from foreign students, which is much more than the profits from arms sales. All in all, this market is estimated at many dozens of billions of dollars. And this includes not only studies, but also internship programs and teacher exchanges. Therefore, it is not surprising that according to American experts, training foreign specialists is the most stable direction in the US economy in this century. There are people and departments in the US National Security Council, the Department of State and the US intelligence agencies that are engaged in educational programs for foreigners. There is even an assistant to the US president who is responsible for these activities. They develop a strategy for many years to come. In Japan, for example, almost all leading companies have funds to pay for the education of foreigners they invite.

The program of inviting foreign students/interns with a bachelor’s degree and above as part of their Master’s, Ph.D. or doctoral studies and subsequent academic work also exists in Israel. Information about it can be found at the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are links to the websites of a number of Israeli universities and official institutions, in particular at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, and on the personal page of A. Kushnir—head of the International Liaison Department at Ben-Gurion University, on the social networking page of Israel’s Foreign Students.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) is a universal system for measuring a student’s academic workload while mastering an educational program or a separate course. As indicated by Israeli sources, in programs at universities in that country the number of ECTS points may differ from European standards. This to some extent complicates the evaluation of the Israeli degree certificates in the West, however, the Israeli certificates are recognized in the EU, the CIS countries, the US, Australia and some countries in Asia and Africa. Israeli mathematicians, physicists, chemists, engineers and specialists in computer science and natural sciences are especially valued. But this does not mean that a graduate of an Israeli university can easily find a job in any country, in some regions the profession may not be in demand. Nevertheless, the flow of foreign students/interns in Israel is very significant, especially from Asia and Africa, where in recent years Tel Aviv has been active.

However, in recent years, the criminal use of this program by some educational institutions in Israel for an open exploitation of foreign students as a cheap labor force on slave conditions has been uncovered repeatedly.

This, in particular, was pointed out back in 2016 by Haaretz, which published a complaint by foreign students who claimed that Israeli agricultural training courses exploited them as cheap labor. Their lawsuit alleged that programs bringing students from developing countries to Israel for hands-on training were a tool for hiring field workers and, in fact, a form of slave labor.

Another scandal on this issue erupted in Israel in 2019, when Haaretz brought up again the ongoing slavery policy of certain Israeli educational institutions’ use of foreign students. In particular, the newspaper published a complaint of African and Asian students at Tel Aviv University who were sent to work 12 hours each on agricultural farms “to earn a degree,” which in no way contributed to their professional knowledge. And only one month was devoted to university studies.

However, this situation has not changed today. And the same renowned newspaper Haatetz stated this at the end of the previous year, illustrating the situation with concrete facts at Kinneret College and exposing the training programs in Israel for foreign students who, upon arrival, are mercilessly exploited as cheap labor. This program is not new or unique to Kinneret College; it goes back to 1994, and since then thousands of trainees from developing countries have come to Israel. A particular increase in the number of foreign students from developing countries in Israel occurred after 2013, when the number of first-year students rose from a few hundred to several thousand and they began to speak out, say members of the human rights organization Kav LaOved. As the newspaper points out, it is clear that previous lessons and miscalculations in the program have not been fully addressed, and certainly not at Kinneret College, one of the five Israeli centers where the program is still in operation. The criminal compulsion to slave labor and inhumane treatment of foreign students continues, with African and Asian students at Tel Aviv University being forcibly sent to work on farms for their diploma…

However, as it turns out, this kind of blatantly exploitive policy towards foreign students is not only characteristic of Israel. In Canada, the “model country of Western democracy,” such scandals do not cease either.  Some foreign students openly accuse the Canadian government of using them, as in Israel, as a cheap source of labor and abandoning them when they are no longer needed.

So it is not surprising that not only Israel, but also many Western countries, which are now trying to continue the past imperial slave policy towards countries and citizens of Africa and Asia, are noticeably losing ground to Russia and China.

By Valery Kulikov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

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