Saluting the nascent talent of the next generation, the Technion’s far-sweeping outreach programs bring in vision, talent and ingenuity – reaching the four corners of the world beyond Technion City.
Israeli students are different from their counterparts in the U.S. and Europe. At 18, most Israelis begin their compulsory military service, lasting two to three years, sometimes more. Thus, the typical Israeli student begins his or her undergraduate studies at the age of 21 or 22, or later. By the time the Israeli student is taking his or her masters or PhD, he or she is often married, sometimes with children. This creates a unique set of challenges and needs that require dedication, effort and resources on the part of the Technion.
Here are a few of the challenges we face:
- Many students come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and need scholarships and financial support;
- Technion is committed to the Zionist goal of “ingathering the exiles”. In practice, this means meeting the many special needs of new immigrant students;
- Numerous students have difficulty adjusting to the demanding level of study at Technion, and need academic and social support services;
- Students from minority religious and ethnic groups – such as Arabs, Druze, ultra-orthodox – face language and cultural difficulties, and need tailored programs to help them integrate;
- Many areas of study at Technion are traditionally “male” subjects, especially engineering and the exact sciences. Attracting women students and cultivating their success requires effort and attention;
- Students require dormitories and related services;
- Many students devote weeks, sometime more, to military reserve duty, each year. They require special support and programs to make sure they can overcome these interruptions.
Lending a Helping Hand – to Everyone
The Technion’s Dean of Students Office provides assistance to meet these needs. In addition, the Technion manifests its dedication to Israeli society through programs in the community; youth education programs in science and technology; programs to recruit and educate special populations such as ultra-Orthodox Haredim, Ethiopian immigrants, Arabs, and more. These programs play a vital role in enabling Technion to teach and train thousands of engineers, scientists, doctors and architects, whose contributions and innovations are so critical to the State of Israel.
The Office of the Dean of Students constitutes the first stop for undergraduates seeking assistance, counseling, support and advice. The current Dean of Students, Prof. Michal Green of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, continues carrying the torch for enhancing student welfare, through the Office’s six professional units whose responsibility it is to offer professional and individually tailored support and lead the effort to advance Technion students. On an annual basis, these units end up serving approximately half of the total undergraduate student body.
Housing – Affordable On-Campus Accommodation
The Student Housing Unit at the Dean of Students’ Office offers on-campus accommodation solutions to Technion students and young faculty members. Technion’s extensive dormitories encompass a total of 3,835 housing units which house singles, couples and families of students attending a variety of degree programs and other educational frameworks, such as the Center for Pre-University Education and Technion’s Practical Engineering School. Currently, there are 4,442 residents, including approximately 300 children.
As part of its efforts to attract high-caliber graduate students and better accommodate its existing graduate student population, the Technion has built the Stanley Shalom Zielony Graduate Students Village which is comprised of seven dormitory buildings containing a total of 216 housing units. This most recent housing project has been designed to provide affordable, on-campus housing for graduate students with families and create a rich, stimulating environment, where students are able to concentrate on their research and exchange intellectual ideas, while assimilating into a cohesive community.
The Technion administration is working relentlessly to enable further expansion of the available dormitories. Among the development projects scheduled to take place in the near future are adding 450 beds to the Zielony Graduate Student Village and roughly 700 beds in the Canada Dormitories. Technion is also looking into a number of possibilities of adding off-campus housing options, especially for Medical Faculty students.
In addition, the Technion is committed to improving its students’ well-being and quality of life on campus. As part of this on-going commitment, the Technion has renovated and upgraded over 230 housing units in the past year. The renovations included improving the electrical infrastructure and the solar water heaters, upgrading the air conditioning system, painting work, renovating the bathrooms and restrooms, and purchasing new furniture and appliances.
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Scholarships – Easing the Financial Burden
The Unit for Personal Assistance at the Dean of Students’ Office offers help and guidance to students in financial distress. The Unit oversees the allocation of need-based scholarships and low-interest loans which have been made available through the generosity of Technion supporters from around the globe. Through these two vehicles, financial assistance is rendered to approximately 30% of Technion undergraduates who may receive amounts equivalent to up to 80% of the tuition fee.
The need-based scholarships are awarded to 1,250 students each year out of approximately 3,000 applicants. The average amount awarded is 4,200 NIS per year.
Some students enjoy additional monetary help from external sources, which enables more and more talented and hard-working young people from struggling families to enroll at the Technion.
All scholarship recipients are required to maintain a satisfactory GPA during the support period, with tutoring frameworks, counseling and individual assistance offered those who need a helping hand in coping with their academic workload.
Reservists – Giving to Those who Give
Technion takes immense pride in the fact that many of its students continue serving the State of Israel in military reserve duty, often having to spend long weeks away from campus. The Technion constantly seeks to develop new services and support frameworks for student reservists and these efforts have been recently noted in a special student survey which named Technion as the most reservist-friendly academic institution in Israel. The Unit for Personal Assistance plays an important part in offering special help and personal consultation to those returning to Technion after long periods of reserve duty. When students return to the Technion from extended reserve duty, they often find it difficult to readjust academically and emotionally.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Technion has been able to do its utmost to help our student reservists catch up with missed material and complete their academic obligations, as well as provide other measures to ease their load, thus ensuring that they do not suffer for serving their country.
As an indication of its commitment to the many students who spend so much time in reserve duty, the Technion was the first academic institution in Israel to sign a pact with the students. The pact expresses the appreciation the Technion has for the reservists and outlines the different kinds of aid the Technion is committed to giving.
Types of Aid Given to Technion Reservists
Copies of Lectures Student reservists are entitled to receive free Xerox slips, which enable them to make copies of lectures they have missed. They are also entitled to free photocopies of lectures, exercises and other teaching materials that were distributed during the courses. Internet Access During their reserve duty, student reservists are provided with Net-Sticks-Cell Modems with secure ID for remote access- that facilitate the connection to all internet services provided to students on campus including online lectures, videos, mail and other important services.
The Beatrice Weston Unit, within the Office of the Dean of Students, offers extra tutoring and counseling to students who have returned from reserve duty. The Ninth Semester Students who have served an accumulated number of 160 days in the reserves during 4 years of studying at the Technion are entitled to an additional free semester, referred to as the ninth semester. Free Summer Courses Students whose reserve duty exceeds 21 days per academic year are given a free summer course. A Technion student who has served for 30 days or more is entitled to two summer courses. Scholarships, Economic Aid and Dormitories Students serving in the reserves are credited toward scholarship eligibility based on economic need. In addition, they get extra eligibility points toward accommodations in the Technion’s dormitories, if needed.
Extra Psychological Counseling and Treatment
Each year, the Unit for Personal Assistance provides extra psychological counseling and support to about 1,000 student reservists.
A recent Technion initiative made it possible for student IDF reservists to convert their reserve duty into academic credits twice during their degree. They are also entitled to 25% time extension in the first cycle of their exams. These newly-approved benefits will join the long list of other privileges enjoyed by Technion students whose dedication and selflessness are a source of inspiration and pride for the entire Technion family.
Special Initiatives – Diverse Solutions to Diverse Needs
The Beatrice Weston Unit for Student Advancement offers advice and counseling to students with adjustment issues, personal problems and learning disabilities. The unit also provides career guidance and assists students with physical disabilities or family-related difficulties. Approximately 3,450 students utilize the unit’s counseling and guidance services each year.
The Professional Employment and IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) Unit provides professional and career counseling to students and graduates. In the passing academic year alone, the Unit held two job fairs attended by 70 companies. These job fairs proved to be among the largest in the country, reflecting the Technion’s leading position as a major human resource provider for the high-tech industry. In addition, the Unit took part in organizing 18 career focus days during which approximately 3,500 of Technion students and alumni were interviewed for potential employment by representatives of leading companies. Another initiative of the Unit, work world preparation lectures, were attended by approximately 500 students. Fifty-five students have been given an opportunity to visit other countries this summer and receive professional training as part of the IAESTE exchange students program.
The Phillip and Francis Fried Counseling Center employs a team of skilled clinical counselors, therapists, social workers and a psychiatrist for the benefit of the student population. Over the last few years there has been a 25% increase in counseling requests from students, making the center a vital feature on campus and one which can truly make a difference in the lives of those students who feel overwhelmed.
The Office of the Dean of Students operates a number of special programs tailored to the specific needs of students from diverse backgrounds coping with a wide scope of learning, economic, social and personal difficulties. Some of these services have received recognition and support from Israel’s Council for Higher Education as model frameworks for assisting their target populations.
Situated in one of Israel’s most diverse and multi-cultural cities and being part of the colorful ethnic fabric of Northern Israel, Technion has established itself as a flagship of tolerance, mutual understanding and support turning its campus into s friendly place for people of all religions, beliefs, ages and backgrounds.
Giving back to Society – Community Projects
Technion outreach programs further illustrate our belief that social responsibility constitutes a vital part of the multi-faceted nature of a university. This outlook is in keeping with the centuries-long magnificent university tradition which has always placed academic institutions at the very core of the surrounding community. In the past year alone, Technion undergraduate students have contributed over 350,000 hours of community service through such frameworks as PERACH (student mentoring program), M.A.T.A. and other programs.
As part of the PERACH project, Technion students assist pupils from elementary school to high school, focusing on academic achievement, leadership and social skills. Through the M.A.T.A initiative, a collaborative effort by the Haifa Municipality, the Ministry of Education and the Technion, 40 Technion undergraduates reach out to about 400 junior high and high-school students from problematic socio-economic background and outlying areas assisting them with their science and technology-related subjects. Another program, “Erim ba-Layla” (Awake at Night) aims to provide rehabilitation services and general assistance to underage prostitutes and youth in distress. This project requires sensitivity and maturity and is only open for students aged 28 and up.
According to a recent initiative of the Technion Student Association, and approved by the Technion Senate, students can now receive academic credits for their voluntary activity. Thus, an undergraduate who spends two hours a week volunteering in a recognized community project receives one additional academic credit per semester. This regulation also applies to students serving in reserve duty for at least 15 days in any given semester.
Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science is home to a host of community initiatives. One of the recently developed projects, called Educational-Scientific Clinic, enables students from all Technion faculties to contribute to in-class STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education of junior high and high school pupils, as assistant teachers in their chosen professional fields.
The students’ unique contribution as part of the pupils’ in-class experience will encompass individualized preparation for matriculation exams, small group instruction, assistance in final project writing and other types of teaching activities tailored to the needs of the target population.
The participants will be offered a specially designed training and enrichment program as part of which they will acquire knowledge and skills in such fields as teaching methods, learning mechanisms, motivation theories, verbal and non-verbal communication and more.
An additional important community involvement platform at Technion is its Alumni Association which operates a number of social responsibility frameworks aimed at harnessing the enormous human potential of Technion graduates for the benefit of Israeli society.
One such project, called “Poalim 3 to 5”, currently operates in 22 towns and cities countrywide and aims to increase the number of junior high and high school students who choose to major in STEM subjects for their matriculation exams. Technion graduates, most of them engineers employed by top-rank high-tech companies, are recruited and trained to deliver complementary classes and tutorials to enhance their pupils’ scientific background and ultimately enable them to successfully pass their matriculation exams in these subjects. The project is designed to cater to the needs of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in peripheral communities and is supported by the Hapoalim Bank, one of the largest and most influential financial institutions in Israel.
Second Chance to Study at Technion: the Center for Pre-University Education.
The Technion sponsors a variety of outreach programs through its Center for Pre-Academic Education. These include: short and longer term (1 year) preparatory courses for those who have no, or poor, matriculation grades; a special preparatory course for high-achieving students from the Arab sector; a 15-month preparatory course for men from the ultra-orthodox sector; as well as special programs for students from the geographical and economic periphery, both before and after their compulsory army service.
During any given academic year, approximately 1,700 students are enrolled in the Center’s programs, many of them receiving excellence- and need-based scholarships through the Velva G. and H. Fred Levine Second Chance Program.