Fall 2011

An Exclusive Interview with Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron,
President of the Open University

Maximizing Potential at the Open University:
Something for Everyone

 Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron
Two subjects are close to the heart of Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron. One is the Open University, where Prof. Messer-Yaron commences her fourth year as President. Two is the subject of STEM: an acronym for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Seemingly different, Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron seamlessly weaves them together to shake up society.

Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron has laid out plans for where she envisions the Open University over the course of the next few years. Having just celebrated 30,000 graduates from the University, Prof. Messer-Yaron says "that within the next two to three years, we will reach 50,000 graduates." And, while growth in the student body is one objective, it is neither the only one or the paramount one.

"The Open University plays a special role in higher education in Israel. Universities throughout Israel are happy to accept OUI alumni to their graduate programs. The reason is that the Open University is uncompromising in its requirements and scope of its programs. Our students take these high standards and carry them with them wherever they go -- be it another university in Israel or abroad, or the workplace.

We have opened our gates to learning to individuals who seek higher learning, and have been denied this or unable to avail themselves of the opportunities for whatever the reasons: be it a career, financial, family, geographic distance, military service, travel or simply timing in one's life."
The Open University is the largest university in Israel, serving over 46,000 students -- and working to enable each student to pursue academic degrees. Open University students have the opportunity to transform their lives, develop their full potential and achieve dreams they may have previously thought unattainable.

Growing the Numbers of Veteran Students

"Reflecting the need for a flexible system of study, our student numbers have been constantly growing," Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron explains, but now, under her aegis, the University is distinguishing between new students and veteran students.

So, Prof. Messer-Yaron has delineated two objectives for the Open University:tapping new market niches to increase the number of new students, and increasing the number of graduating veteran students.

In terms of the latter, "We have a lot of students who have been with us for years, but have not yet graduated. We have identified 3,000 such individuals who are close to completion of their degrees, and for a variety of reasons have stopped in their tracks. It is my goal to have all 3,000 complete their requirements and graduate with degrees over the next few years."

To accomplish this, Prof. Messer-Yaron has customized the University's marketing campaign. University staff are identifying veteran students specific needs, handling academic issues on a one-on-one basis, and lowering bureaucratic and administrative obstacles that may have, until now, delayed progress.

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