Higher Education Program for Bedouin Students
Addressing Retention in the Bedouin Sector

The obstacles facing Bedouin students from the Negev, seeking higher education are the result of multiple socio-economic factors. The Bedouin community suffers from the highest poverty and unemployment rates in Israel, coupled with low rates of matriculation and eligibility for higher education institutions. Due to these challenges, Bedouin students have the highest college dropout rates in Israel.

Israel's Ministry of Education’s Council for Higher Education asked the college to create a program to increase higher education retention rates in the Bedouin sector. Sapir Academic College launched in 2015, the Gateway to Academy-Higher Education Program for Bedouin Students. Our four-year program offers a higher retention rate in academic studies by providing comprehensive solutions to the academic, financial and cultural issues facing Bedouin students.

Admission to the Gateway program are based on participants' matriculation grades and entrance exams results. Candidates are encouraged to join the 6-week 'One Step Ahead' summer preparatory program. Students join an intensive pre-academic year, in small homogenous classes, to prepare for their selected degree studies. Students that successfully complete the year-end exams, enroll in their chosen college departments, without the need for psychometric exams. Throughout the four-year program, Gateway provides academic, social and financial support.

The participating academic departments in the Gateway program include Social Work, Law, Communications, The School of Audio & Visual Arts, Cultural Studies, Human Resources, Public Administration & Policy, Computer Sciences, Economics, Industrial Management, and Logistics.  In addition, Gateway students can join Sapir's one year Bridge Programs with BGU in Engineering, Chemistry and Life Sciences. The high staff to student ratio and personal attention is key factor to Gateway's success.

Gateway addresses a range of academic, language and socio-economic issues facing Bedouin students:

  • Academics: Gateway provides throughout the four-year program, reinforced credited college courses, mentors and academic assistance.
  • Language: Throughout the four-year program, and intensively in the first year, the program offers extra hours and reinforcement in Hebrew and English language skills.
  • Empowerment & Civil Society: Gateway offers soft skills workshops, seminars, volunteer opportunities and excursions, which address issues of empowerment, identity and civil society.
  • Finances: Gateway grants subsidized tuition fees, living and travel stipends, assistance in purchasing computers and books as well as Emergency Aid for students experiencing financial crises.  
  • Career Planning:  Students in their last year of academic studies participate Economic Empowerment and Career Planning offering over 30 hours of training.