Jerusalem Allocates $56 Million for US-Israel Scientific Research Program

As part of its mission to continue the strengthening of scientific ties between Israel and the United States and further internationalizing Israeli higher education, Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) has earmarked an estimated $56 million USD grant to the joint program between Israel’s National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).

The money for the US-Israeli scientific research projects will be allocated over a five year period, and facilitate expansion of existing programs as well as the initiation of new endeavors in the exact sciences, engineering, computer science, natural and life sciences, earth and environmental sciences, economics, and psychology fields.

CHE is an official authority that determines policy for universities and colleges and introduces programs to improve the overall quality of education in Israel. It supports innovation and excellence in teaching while striving to make higher education accessible to the entire Israeli population, while strengthening the internationalization of the higher education system.

Israel is among the few countries that maintains a joint research program with the NSF, and the nation’s scientists have earned an excellent reputation worldwide. NSF-BSF operations began in 2013, with the purpose of deepening cooperation with the U.S., while improving the reputation of science in the Jewish State.

The CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC) Chair, Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, said, “The expansion of the NSF-BSF program is an achievement for the Israeli higher education system.” according to an organizational press release. “The United States is the world’s research superpower and its willingness, through the NSF, to significantly expand American investment in, and collaboration with, Israeli researchers and institutions demonstrates the strength and quality of Israeli research,” Zilbershats said, adding that “The PBC has set the advancement of internationalization as a central goal in its multiyear plan and allocates hundreds of millions of shekels per year to strengthen scientific ties with the United States, Europe, and Asia.”

Two additional initiatives the PBC approved include an increase in the number postdoctoral scholarships for study in Israel, particularly of outstanding students from leading universities in the United States and Canada. As part of a cooperative program with the Zuckerman Institute, the program enables dozens of candidates to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) at Israeli research universities. Each student is awarded $100,000 over a two-year study term, with possible extensions for up to two years. $11 million has been allocated for equal distribution between the PBC and the Zuckerman Institute over the next four years.

The nation’s Council for Higher Education also greenlighted an increase in annual grants for American postdoctoral students studying in Israel within the framework of the Fulbright Israel United States-Israel Education Fund from $20,000 to $35,000, and raised scholarships to Israeli postdoctoral students studying in the U.S. from $37,500 to $47,500.