Ahead of the opening of the new academic year on Sunday, a rise has been recorded in the number of students who are expected to begin undergraduate degree programs at BGU. 9,500 students have registered for undergraduate degree programs and about 2,500 have registered for Master's degrees. The most popular programs are medicine, computer science and psychology.
Despite widespread concern in Israel about declining numbers of young adults interested in studying at universities, BGU has experienced a 5% increase in registrants in comparison with last year. Specifically, there has been a sharp 36% upswing in registrants for the physics department, including a significant number of women.
That increase may be due to the University's efforts to boost the number of women studying the exact sciences and engineering (STEM). The University announced a special prize this year for women registering for programs of study in departments in which women are underrepresented. The prize was a successful incentive, as 40 women have registered for STEM programs this year, twice the number of those who registered for the same departments last year.
Demand for several programs has risen dramatically since last year, including social work (27%), computer science (26%) and philosophy (23%). Two trends can be seen in registration this year: an increase in registration for mathematics and physics, signifying a return to the foundational scientific subjects, as well as an increase in demand for fields in which students acquire a profession, such as social work and nursing – professions that provide job security, if not high salaries.
At a time when many universities have seen a decrease in students studying the humanities and social sciences, some of the programs in those same disciplines at BGU have seen a marked increase over the last five years. African Studies grew from 11 students five years ago to 83 last year. Arabic Language and Culture grew from 36 to 96. Foreign Literatures and Linguistics grew from 99 to 184 students, the General History grew from 112 to 134, Hebrew Language grew from 92 students five years ago to 140 last year and Social Work grew from 278 to 358.
New programs and initiatives at BGU: two new Master's degrees: one in Ecology, Management and Conservation and one in Structural Engineering.
A new dual-degree undergraduate program will also open this year in Economics and Health Systems Management.