In the late 1980s, seven universities existed in Israel: the Technion (Israel Institute for Technology, founded in 1912); the Hebrew University (1925); Tel Aviv University (begun in 1935, functioning fully since 1956); Bar-Ilan University (1955); Haifa University (1963); Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (1965); and the postgraduate Weizmann Institute of Technology (1934). Higher education in Israel has grown tremendously since independence: in the 1948-49 academic year a total of 1,635 students attended degree-granting institutions, whereas in 1986-87 the figure was 67,160. In terms of enrollments, the largest institution was Tel Aviv University (19,400 students in 1986-87), followed by Hebrew University (16,870), Bar-Ilan (9,480), the Technion (9,090), Haifa (6,550), Ben-Gurion University (5,200), and the Weizmann Institute (570).
Israeli universities have not been isolated from the larger problems of society. High inflation and budget cutbacks have hit them severely since the late 1970s; many observers have expressed fear of a potential "brain-drain" as talented academics, unable to find suitable employment in Israel, emigrate. There have been repeated calls to increase the number of Israelis of Oriental background in colleges and universities, at the same time that charges of "compromised standards" have been advanced. The university campuses have also been centers of political activity among all shades of the political spectrum in Israel, including Arab students.
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