Tel Aviv University closing French department
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Haifa recently closed similar departments.
Tel Aviv University is closing its French department, Haaretz has learned.
The dean of the humanities department, Professor Eyal Zisser, on Tuesday convened the French studies faculty and announced he was stopping registration to the department, which will lead to its closure. Zisser said students will be able to complete their studies in the department but new students will not be able to register next year.
Some students who attended the meeting said they were surprised, but others said enrollment to the department, and Tel Aviv University’s humanities departments in general, is declining.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where the humanities faculty has seen a drastic drop in students and resources in recent years, has slashed course offerings and merged small departments in the faculty.
Tel Aviv University follows Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Haifa in closing its French studies department. Next year, Bar-Ilan University will be the only university in Israel with an active French department.
“We’re all very sad,” said Tel Aviv University French studies professor Michele Bokobza Kahan, who confirmed that students will be allowed to complete their studies in the department. “We don’t have enough students and have very few faculty members. We cannot maintain the department like this. We work very hard to provide the students with what they need and it was very moving to see their reactions and how sad they were.”
Two faculty members are due to retire soon, which will leave the department with three senior faculty members and one French language teacher. The department’s senior lecturers will join other departments at the university, likely literature and history. Ten junior faculty members, who teach one or two courses per semester in the department, will probably not be hired back next year.
“We made great efforts over many years to hold the department together, but it seems we have no choice now but to close it,” said Kahan. “The department cannot guarantee new students an adequate program in these circumstances.”
She noted that 15 years ago, there were 400 students in the department. This year, less than 30 students enrolled. “Students these days are looking less to broaden their horizons and want more practical training in academic studies,” she said.
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