The country has made efforts to ensure all international students have access to vaccine. This vaccination drive is indicative of Israel’s commitment to internationalization in higher education.
New Delhi, March 19, 2021: As the world leader in vaccines administered,per capita, Israel is pursuing a national vaccination campaign to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and international students enrolled in Israel’s higher education institutions are an integral part of this effort. Since January, 55% of the total population received the first dose, with 47% of the total population being completely vaccinated. Understanding the importance of the vaccine in ensuring the health and safety of their students and the public, Israeli universities and colleges were swift to verify that the international student body would be included in the campaign. Most international students have been inoculated through their health care provider, in the same manner as Israeli residents and citizens.
“Israel is committed to enriching our higher education system through internationalization and the integration of international students and researchers. Throughout the pandemic, our academic institutions have ensured that courses continue at the same high quality through digital learning methods and that cutting-edge research carries on. Their highly professional staff have been a major support to international students in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. Now that Israel is running a successful vaccination drive, we are extremely proud that our international students have full access to the vaccine.” Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, Chair, Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education
Some academic institutions have even organized vaccine drives on campus to guarantee that their international students and researchers, including Indian’s, had access to the vaccine. In order to do so, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for example, liaised with Magen David Adom (Israel’s paramedic and Red Cross service) to administer vaccines on campus to over 500 international students and researchers from countries all over the world including China, India, Denmark, France, Mexico. A clinic was set up and operated by 10 medical professionals over the course of a full day and will return in 3 weeks-time to administer the second dose. Institutions such as Bar Ilan University, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and Tel Aviv University are also arranging such opportunities on their campuses.
Mihir Mogra, an Indian student pursuing his master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion, says, “I had a very pleasant experience with the vaccination drive in Israel. I felt that the planning and implementation was done in a very efficient and timely manner. The staff was also very warm and welcoming in nature. The other international students that I talked to shared similar experience and no one faced any problems. We all feel really fortunate to get the vaccine early.”
Rohith Grandhi, an Indian student at the Jacob Blaustein Institute of Desert Research Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel related: “Israel is treating every individual alike irrespective of their nationality. The staff at the vaccination centres are working hard to ensure everybody is administered the vaccine and I believe it is a mighty thing to do. I was worried about getting an appointment for the vaccination but had a hassle free experience in getting the vaccine. I am really thankful to the country for this seamless vaccination drive”
The effort to inoculate international students is part of the wider support system that Israeli academic institutions provide as part of their international programs – which has steadily continued over the past year despite the pandemic. The Council for Higher Education of Israel defined internationalization as a central element of its national strategy for the higher education system and this has taken on new, innovative approachesin light of the restrictions on international mobility, including through digital learning and virtual exchange. Through it all, academic institutions have maintained their commitment to excellence – in academia, research and student support services- and strived to assist their international students in all ways possible from visas, academics, wellbeing and social activities and now with the vaccine.