Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) has earmarked some $56 million to a joint US-Israeli program over the next five years, the organization announced last week.
The money was allocated to a program created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF.)
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The budget will “facilitate dozens of research programs each year in a variety of fields, expanding on the handful of research programs currently being carried out,” a statement from CHE said.
The NSF is an independent federal agency that was created in 1950 by the US Congress to promote the progress of science. Founded in 1972, the independent body known as the BSF promotes scientific relations between the US and Israel through the support of collaborative research programs in a wide area of basic and applied scientific fields.
The joint NSF-BSF programs began in 2013 to encourage research collaboration between US and Israeli researchers. Both countries can submit joint proposals to the NSF-BSF.
The program distributes grants for a variety of fields of research, including: exact sciences, engineering, computer science, natural and life sciences, earth and environmental sciences, economics, and psychology.
This program contributes to the improvement of the reputation of science, the statement says, and increases collaborative research opportunities for Israeli researchers at the same time. It also reinforces internationlization in the higher education systems.
Israel is one of only a few countries that have joint research programs with the NSF.
“The expansion of the NSF-BSF program is an achievement for the Israeli higher education system. 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,” said
Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, chair of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC). “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.”
In an effort to increase the scope of support of collaborations between Israeli researchers and American researchres, the PBC has also approved two more initiatives.
Beginning this year, the CHE will increase the number of postdoctoral scholarships for people studying in Israel, with an emphasis on outstanding postdoctoral students from leading universities in the United States and Canada.
The program, in collaboration with Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, will allow for the admission of dozens of outstanding postdoctoral students in STEM subjects, over the next several years at all Israeli research universities.
The amount of the scholarship for each postdoctoral student is $100,000 over two years, with the possibility of extending the scholarship for an additional two years. The total budget will be approximately $11 million over the course of four years.
The CHE has also increased support of postdoctoral scholarships granted to Israeli and American scientists in the framework of the Fulbright Israel United States-Israel Education Fund (USIEF) from $20,000 a year to $35,000 a year for American postdoctoral students studying in Israel, and from $37,500 a year for Israeli postdoctoral students studying in the United States to $47,500.