Is­rael gap years may win stu­dents places

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

YOUTH MOVE­MENTS this week wel­comed the idea of par­tic­i­pants on gap year schemes in Is­rael be­ing able to use their time abroad to help them win a univer­sity place.

Un­der a scheme run by the As­dan award­ing body, stu­dents on struc­tured gap years can boost their Ucas points by 70 points – equiv­a­lent to an A grade at AS Level – by earn­ing a Cer­tifi­cate of Per­sonal Ef­fec­tive­ness (Cope).

With ap­pli­ca­tions for Jewish gap year pro­grammes down by al­most half this year, as stu­dents were face with pay­ing an­nual fees of up to £9,000, such an ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fit could make all the dif­fer­ence

The qual­i­fi­ca­tion fo­cuses on per­sonal skills in­clud­ing team­work, vol­un­teer­ing and learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage. Can­di­dates are re­quired to com­plete 150 hours of ac­tiv­ity and as­sessed by As­dan on a pro­ject doc­u­ment­ing their ef­forts in six skill ar­eas.

Al­though Cope was in­tro­duced in 2005, it was with lit­tle fan­fare and with ac­cord­ingly lim­ited up­take. As­dan now want to en­cour­age more gap year com­pa­nies to of­fer the chance to work to­wards the qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Bar­bara Benson, As­dan’s head of cur­ricu­lum de­vel­op­ment, said Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions run­ning vol­un­teer­ing and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes in Is­rael would cer­tainly fit the bill for some­thing chal­leng­ing young peo­ple “to de­velop skills to a re­ally high level.

“We look at skills rather than the ve­hi­cle for them, so the­o­ret­i­cally ev­ery­thing could fit in,” she said.

“Things like teach­ing English abroad or study­ing He­brew are all fan­tas­ti­cally good for de­vel­op­ing skills. The idea that it is a sim­ple op­tion is com­pletely false.”

Move­ment work­ers would need to com­plete train­ing with As­dan to qual­ify, but could fea­si­bly of­fer the Cope course to par­tic­i­pants on gap years from Septem­ber 2012.

The qual­i­fi­ca­tion could even be achieved on a shorter gap year pro­gramme, such as the UJIA’s new five­month pre-univer­sity “Is­rael Jour­ney”.

Stu­dents would typ­i­cally only achieve the points af­ter they sub­mit­ted univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions, but Ms Benson said sixth-for­m­ers could still se­cure a de­ferred place, con­di­tional on com­ple­tion of Cope. It could also help those who missed a grade at A Level and wanted to reap­ply to univer­sity on their years abroad.

Francesca Wolfe, na­tional di­rec­tor of the Fed­er­a­tion of Zion­ist Youth, praised the idea of gap years be­ing recog­nised by aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. “It’s about time,” she said.

“We of­fer all of those things at the mo­ment – our pro­grammes are al­ready at that stan­dard.

“Peo­ple wouldn’t have to go for that rea­son, but it’s fan­tas­tic that they could.”

FZY’s year pro­grammes are run in tan­dem with US youth move­ment Young Judea, whose par­tic­i­pants can al­ready earn col­lege cred­its on the course. “This is a way for the Brits to have the same op­por­tu­nity,” she said. “We will cer­tainly look into it.”

Zion­ist So­cial­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion Habonim Dror has been un­able to build up num­bers to take a group to Is­rael this year be­cause of the fees hike.

“Some­thing like this would be great,” said na­tional di­rec­tor Ge­orgie Davis.

“It could also make a big dif­fer­ence to par­ents,” she added.

“Youth move­ments tell par­ents the good things par­tic­i­pants can get from gap years in Is­rael. This con­firms that it is worth­while.”

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