Tag: Diversity

Promoting Equality on Campus

Tel Aviv University has announced the formation of a new unit – the Equality and Diversity Commission – to be led by Prof. Neta Ziv from The Buchmann Faculty of Law. The new Commission, which will report directly to the University President, will deal with all aspects of equality and diversity on campus, including gender, Arabs, first-generation university students, people with disabilities, the LGBT community, members of the Ethiopian community, and the ultra-Orthodox. The Commission will act to promote equality and diversity in the faculty, the administration, and the student body. Prof. Ziv will start her new role in July 2021.

Striving for a Diverse & Equal Campus

Tel Aviv University has thus adopted in practice the recommendations of the Diversity Committee appointed by Prof. Ariel Porat, President of TAU, to examine the issue. The Committee, headed by Prof. Sigal Alon, recommended, inter alia, that the new unit outline a comprehensive university policy, set goals, and help senior TAU office holders promote equality and diversity in the areas under their responsibility. The Committee report states: “To solve complex social problems, discover the next scientific breakthrough, and reach new heights of artistic expression, we must allow diverse ideas, approaches, perspectives, and experiences. Such diversity stimulates new research POVs, analytical methods, discoveries, and solutions.” Similarly, campus diversity creates opportunities for interactions among students and faculty members coming from different backgrounds and expands tolerance towards a broad range of perspectives. A diverse campus is itself an edifying model as it prepares students for better citizenship and leadership in a democracy striving for an ideal society free of racism, fear of the other, and stereotyping. TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat: “To strive for equality and diversity on the campus is not only a social objective of the highest importance. A diverse academic faculty ensures a higher academic level for the university and its units; a diverse student body makes the experience of studying at the campus more meaningful; and a diverse administration provides the campus community with the sense that the university belongs to everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, or nationality. I’m proud that Prof. Neta Ziv responded favorably to my request to assume the position of establishing the new Commission. Anyone who knows Neta knows that she is both a fully ethical individual and someone who gets things done, a rare combination of traits. For many years, she headed the Law Faculty’s legal clinics and made them a source of pride for the Faculty and University as a whole, nationally and internationally.” Prof. Neta Ziv notes that the Commission she will lead will operate jointly with existing units to expand programs that have been implemented in recent years, particularly for first-generation university students and students with disabilities, the integration of Arabs and other groups in the administrative staff, and increasing the number of women and Arabs on the academic faculty at all levels. Prof. Ziv: “I’m greatly honored to have been asked to head the formation of the new unit and work on issues I have studied, taught, and been active in for more than thirty years. I believe that a diverse, equal campus is critical for achieving the academic excellence we strive for. But this is also an ethical matter. As a body that relies on public and community resources, the University is obligated to reflect the diversity of the Israeli public at large and become a sphere where every group enjoys a sense of belonging in an equal and respectful manner.”  

Increased Diversity Secured On TAU Campus

Marketing efforts and direct lines of communication generate impressive results.

Consistent and Targeted Marketing

The number of Arab students in technological studies Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have doubled over the past five years: 459 Arab students (150 of these women) studied technology professions at TAU in 2020 studied technology professions at TAU in 2020, compared to 237 (59 of these women) in 2016. 

This significant achievement is not the result of affirmative action or easing of admission conditions, but of consistent and targeted marketing carried out over several years. The target audience in this case was Arab high school students and the goal was to increase the number of Arab students of hi-tech disciplines to reflect the proportionate size of the Arab population in Israel.

In 2020, 307 Arab students (18% of Electrical Engineering students, equal to the percentage of Arabs in Israeli society) attended TAU’s School of Electrical Engineering, compared to 136 (about 9% of Electrical Engineering students) students in 2016. There were 97 women (approx. 6%) studying Electrical Engineering in 2020, a significant increase from 31 (2.1%) in 2016.

TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, experienced a 50% growth in the number of Arab bachelor students. In 2020, 152 Arab students (12.2%, 53 of these women (4.3%)) studied for a bachelor’s degree in computer science, compared to 101 students (8.7%, 28 of these women (2.4%)) in 2016. 

Reaching out to Minorities

Alon Weinpress, Tel Aviv University’s Marketing Director, says: “In recent years we have made great efforts to convey to those from the Arab society interested in studying that Tel Aviv University is a home for them. Our efforts include: visiting high schools; organizing tours of the TAU campus; participating in fairs; sponsoring major events such as hackathons dedicated to Arab society and more. I am thrilled that these efforts are bearing fruit in general, and in the fields of engineering and computer science in particular.”

“In addition to increasing the number of Arab students at the university, we also wish to diversify enrollment and expose candidates to potential and important fields of study,” adds Shady Othmany, Marketing Coordinator for the Arab Society within the university’s Strategic Planning and Marketing Division. 

“Increasing the number of Arab students in high-tech professions has been challenging and the admission requirements are high. Despite this, and thanks to our chosen work method and strategies and the support of our professional marketing team and the assistance of Dr. Youssef Mashharawi, we have gradually advanced towards our goal.”

“The secret behind our success can be explained by our decision to be part of Arab society. We have consistently been conducting activities aimed at the Arab sector, in collaboration with multiple associations and institutions. We prioritize meeting the different needs of those interested on a personal level, also during the pandemic.”

“The father of a candidate contacted me directly when he understood the date for the entrance test was postponed because of Corona. He was concerned about his son’s chances to get accepted to our Electrical Engineering studies. We offered an alternative admission route for his son. This option had been advertised on the university website, but being able to make a simple phone call and have a pleasant conversation in their own language, lowered the stress levels for the father and son. Being able to offer this type of assistance is immensely satisfying for me.” concludes Shady.


Shady Othmany in dialogue with a group of university candidates

Prof. Mark Shtaif, TAU Rector notes that: “Along with academic excellence, Tel Aviv University sees great importance in making higher education accessible to various sectors of the population, with particular emphasis on the Arab society. A few years ago, we set an ambitious goal for ourselves: to increase the proportion of Arab students in our high-tech studies to reflect the proportion of Arabs in the Israeli population. I am pleased to see that in Electrical Engineering we managed to reach our goal even sooner than expected, and hope the positive trend that we are witnessing in Computer Science will continue as well, until we attain our goal.”

Featured image: Shady Othmany, Marketing Coordinator for the Arab Society, with Arab students at the Tel Aviv University campus


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