On October 21, 2003, the first "Arab university" in Israel officially opened in the village of Ibilin in the Western Galilee. Under the terms of an operating license received this year from Israel's Council of Higher Education, the university, part of the Mar Elias Education Institutions, will also operate as an overseas branch of the University of Indianapolis. Though described by university president Dr. Elias Shakour as an Israeli Arab university, it is open to all students - Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze.
Initially, the institution will have three departments: computer studies, environmental studies and communications. It is authorized to confer B.A. degrees in professional studies that are recognized in Israel and the United States. The university plans to establish other departments, including one in Holy Land Studies and Theology.
The first year, 80 students enrolled. Jewish instructors made up about one-quarter of the faculty. The campus, at Mar Elias Educational Institutions, also features a preschool facility, an elementary school and secondary school, as well as engineering and teaching colleges.
Sources: Haaretz (October 22, 2003)