Higher Education Abroad: Trends among the Indigenous Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel

Higher Education Abroad: Trends among the Indigenous Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel

Khalid Arae, Kussai Haj-Yehia
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0169-5.ch003
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Through an investigation tracing the historical origins and trends associated with the Palestinian Minority in Israel (PAMI), this chapter investigates why a large proportion of those students—33% in fact—now choose to study abroad. Data are drawn from official statistics, documents and representative studies of PAMI students' to thus enable the authors to identify key factors that hinder PAMI access to Higher Education (HE) in Israel. Limited access to HE in the State of Israel is a strong motivator for PAMI students studying abroad, as it provides greater opportunity to pursue HE. This chapter discusses the features of globalization that have led to the development of a highly competitive international academic market and the effect that this has had on PAMI students' choice of location for HE and also choice of chosen field of study.
Chapter Preview


Studies have described the challenges that students encounter when studying either long-term or short-term outside their country of origin and when they return home (e.g., Tarrant, 2012; Brooks & Waters, 2011). However, there has been little research concerning the specific constraints that shape minority group members’ decision to study abroad, let alone in an indigenous ethnic minority such as the Palestinian Arab Minority citizens of Israel (PAMI) (Arar & Haj Yehia, 2010, 2013; Brooks & Waters, 2011; Haj Yehia & Arar, 2014). Thus, the aim of this chapter is the identification of likely reasons for the large-scale mobility of PAMI students to study abroad and the main changes that have taken place in PAMI studies abroad over the last two decades. More specifically, this chapter aims to answer the following questions:

  • 1.

    What motivating factors push PAMI students to continue their HE abroad?; and

  • 2.

    What trends and changes have occurred in the characteristics of PAMI students’ studies abroad?

In order to answer these questions, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of existing theoretical and empirical research literature examining the relationship between minorities and marginal groups and mobility for HE and a review of recent literature on the political, economic, and historical characteristics influencing the development of HE for the PAI (Arar & Mustafa, 2011; Arar & Haj Yehia, 2010; 2013). Contemporary critical and cultural perspectives, including a post-colonial view of education, influenced the study design and data analysis (Kincheloe & Maclaren, 2002). Content analysis was applied to official documents, official statistics, and research by the authors. An endogenous model, that sees ‘both the possible causes and the possible effects as located within the country being investigated’ (Qyen, 1990, p. 6) was utilized. The analysis stems from the interest of two indigenous Palestinian Arab researchers from Israel who investigate and illuminate whether and how the social characteristics of PAMI students and the patterns of their studies in HE reflect the social characteristics of Israel and the policies it implements (Qyen, 1990).



PAMI students travelling to foreign countries usually undertake long-term studies to acquire a degree, while few PAMI students undertake short-term studies abroad. Typically, PAMI graduates seek to pursue post-doctoral programs abroad for no more than two years and, inclusive of a scholarship, such as the United States’ (US) Fulbright Foundation program (Haj Yehia, 2013), the DAAD foundation in Germany (Haj Yehia, 2007) and, PAMI graduate students who participate in special programs in international development and leadership such as the Ford Foundation Program in the US (Haj Yehia & Arar, 2014). Israeli universities have little involvement in the credits system of international programs, such as Erasmus (Teichler, 2001), and they have only recently started to develop special programs in cooperation with international partners including Tempos Iris Program in Europe. Thus, few PAMI students have benefitted from programs such as these. For PAMI students, a national minority group in Israel, short-term studies abroad in English-speaking countries can help with the acquisition of English language skills especially where English is the language of instruction (Haj Yehia & Arar, 2014).

There are several reasons why PAMI students prefer to study in long-term courses abroad (Haj Yehia & Arar, 2014):

Key Terms in this Chapter

Israel: A small, narrow, semi-arid country on the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Over the years, the Land was known by many names: Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel); Zion, one of Jerusalem’s hills which came to signify both the city and the Land of Israel as a whole; Palestine, derived from Philistia, and first used by the Romans; the Promised Land; and the Holy Land, to mention but a few. However, to most Israelis today, the country is simply Ha’aretz - ‘the Land’. Over 7.8 million people live in Israel today (5.9 million Jews and 1.6 million Arabs). A wide spectrum of lifestyles characterizes the country, ranging from religious to secular, from modern to traditional, from urban to rural, from communal to individual.

Education Abroad: Education that occurs outside the participant’s home country. Besides study abroad, examples include such international experiences as directed travel, non-credit internships, volunteering, and work, as long as these programs are driven to a significant degree by learning goals.

Race: A socially defined concept used to categorize people based on a combination of physical characteristics and genetic heritage.

Nationality: (1) When used in a ‘legal’ sense means membership of a person in a nation state. A national of a country generally possess the right of abode in the country whose nationality he/she holds. Nationality is distinguished from citizenship, as a citizen has the right to participate in the political life of the state of which he/she is a citizen, such as by voting or standing for election. Although nationals need not have these rights, normally they do. (2) When used in a ‘sociopolitical’ sense means membership in a group of people with a shared history and a shared sense of identity and political destiny.

Ethnicity: An aspect of an individual’s identity that is based on that individual’s heritage where the individual shares common physical, national, linguistic, and/or religious traits with others who are from the same heritage. Ethnic Groups are composed of members sharing a common ethnicity.

Hebrew: Historically regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, today Hebrew is spoken by approximately nine million people worldwide. Modern Hebrew is one of the two official languages of Israel (the other being Modern Standard Arabic), while pre-modern Hebrew is used for prayer or study in Jewish communities around the world today. As a foreign language, it is studied mostly by Jews and students of Judaism and Israel, and by archaeologists and linguists specializing in the Middle East and its civilizations, as well as by theologians in Christian seminaries.

Citizenship: A status that indicates membership in a nation state, or political community, and carries with it rights to political participation and obligations i.e., a person having such membership is a ‘citizen. It is largely synonymous with ‘Nationality’, although it is possible to have a nationality without being a citizen i.e., be legally subject to a state and entitled to its protection without having rights of political participation in it.

PAMI: The Palestinian Minority in Israel.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: