In order to enable more students to excel at their studies and maximize their potential, Hebrew University Rector, Barak Medina, issued new directives for preventing student dropout.
The University hired support counselors (YOTAMs), who identify and reach out to students who show indicators that they may be at risk for dropping out. The YOTAMs are graduate students who are familiar with the undergraduate courses and requirements in the department under their supervision. Today, the University employs 32 YOTAMs (12 Jewish, 20 Arab), who enter the classrooms and introduce themselves at the beginning of the year.
Additionally, certain first-and second-year courses have been defined as indicator courses. Early in the term, the university receives information about students’ attendance and basic writing assignments. The YOTAM follows up with the flagged students, creating a holistic support plan for each student, based on their needs.
One form of support is a peer-tutoring program. Advanced students tutor first- and second-year students on a weekly basis. Offered free of charge, the tutor receives a stipend or two academic credits for their work. Tutors also participate in monthly training sessions. During the Fall 2019 semester, 530 students volunteered to tutor (340 Jewish, 190 Arab). The tutoring may last the duration of the semester or be short-term, depending on the need. Some tutors even met with numerous students or groups.
As the tutor and YOTAM get to know the students better, they can direct them to additional sources of support where relevant – whether they need personal, psychologica, financial, or social support.
In addition, academic units reach out to students who have not signed up for classes, notify the university when students fail to take their exams, and generally track student progress.
At the same time, students from particular disadvantaged backgrounds enjoy unique benefits, including tutoring, assistance with living expenses, and more. This includes new immigrants, Arab students, graduates of ultra-Orthodox institutions, and students of Ethiopian descent.