Digital campus and big data research: The future of Israeli academia – The Planning and Budgeting Committee

Council for Higher Education

We are living in an era of accelerated technological transformation. Digitization of all aspects of life is creating a tremendous volume of accessible information; knowledge is created and transmitted in ever-changing methods. These trends have an impact on academia across the globe. Leading academic institutions worldwide are putting this information revolution to use by transforming both academic training and scientific research. The PBC (Planning and Budgeting Committee), a subcommittee of the CHE (Council for Higher Education), is working to leverage these trends for a quantum leap in Israeli academia by launching the new Campus, and by initiating a program to revamp research infrastructure in Israel, with an emphasis on big data infrastructure.

1. The vision of the New Campus – Progressing towards digital and active learning

ampuses for higher education are the focal point where knowledge is created by way of research, and is shared with students by way of instruction. The internet revolution offers easy access and transmission of information. This necessitates an upgrade in academia of research and instruction to meet the needs of the new era. To this end, the new Campus aspires to create a fresh and current learning experience: digital, active, and in tune with the industry.

Firstly, Israel will join the global revolution of digital courses. Working together with the edX initiative created by Harvard University and MIT, Israeli academic institutions will be able to offer digital courses through the international edX platform and through a designated Israel platform. PBC-CHE and the Headquarters for the national Digital Israel Initiative, Ministry of Social Equality, are also funding this enterprise to create digital courses that correspond with the stringent norms of edX.

Secondly, the academic institution will become a space where students can set groundbreaking entrepreneurial ideas into motion. To this end, as of 2019, entrepreneurship and innovation centers will be established on campuses where students will receive training in entrepreneurship, and will work together with lecturers, researchers, and professional mentors to promote projects of social and economic consequence. Entrepreneurship centers will transform campuses into an ecosystem that is adapted to innovation, encourages creativity, removes obstacles, and mediates between academia and industry.

2. Israel at the forefront of global knowledge - a multiannual program to establish and update research infrastructure

Research infrastructure is a decisive component in the ability of Israel’s scientific community to stand at the forefront of global research. As such, PBC-CHE’s current multiannual program is allocating roughly NIS 1.5 billion to establish and update the research infrastructure of higher education institutions.

Hundreds of millions of shekels will be allocated for scholarships to purchase advanced research equipment and to fund the use of this equipment in all fields. Moreover, a number of flagship research fields of national and global import have been designated – such as personalized medicine, quantum technology and science, data science, and humanities. Research infrastructure in these fields would be markedly promoted at a total value of about NIS 600 million.

Flagship programs for quantum technology and science and data science are designed to bring about a significant breakthrough in Israel’s capabilities and global standing in the research and instruction fields, and to contribute to the vitality of Israel’s security and economy. Data science is unique in that it touches upon almost all content fields of academia. These programs will advance innovation not only in exact sciences, but in social sciences and humanities as well. The link between humanities and technological advances is also evident in the flagship program for the promotion of humanities. Among other objectives, the program would promote academic studies that combine humanities with science and engineering.