Jerusalem is a large city, the largest in Israel in terms of population, and is the center of a metropolitan area consisting of localities that receive services from the major city. In the metropolitan context the issue of employment is usually examined, but another important service is higher education. There are many higher education institutions in Jerusalem, and data recently published by the CBS show that in the 2018/19 school year, 27,800 undergraduate students studied in institutions located in the city, compared with 24,800 in institutions in Tel Aviv, and 21,900 in institutions in Haifa (The three largest cities were the only ones in exceeding 20,000 students studying in their domestic institutes). In Jerusalem, most undergraduate students studied at academic colleges (47%) and academic colleges of education (36%), and only a minority at the Hebrew University (36%), while in Tel Aviv and Haifa the situation was the opposite.

These data refer to the location of the institutions, and not to the students’ residence. In addition, in a bachelor’s degree it is difficult to examine the residence (because a large proportion of students do not transfer their official address to the city where they study), and during periods of regular study, it can be assumed that the majority of students move to the city where they study. In graduate and post graduate degrees, however, the situation is different.

In a master’s degree and especially in doctoral studies, the presence of the student at the university is less intense, and other considerations appear, such as a spouse’s workplace or studies, or children’s kindergartens and schools. It is therefore interesting to see whether there is a regional, metropolitan element in the choice of postgraduate study place (we examined doctoral students), or whether from all localities students are scattered randomly between universities (doctoral studies do not take place in colleges). Is there an “academic metropolis”?

Among PhD students living in Jerusalem (1,170), 70% study at the Hebrew University. A similar percentage of doctoral students living in Tzur Hadassah study at the Hebrew U. The other localities in which most doctoral students choose Jerusalem are Ma’ale Adumim (61%); Mevaseret Zion (52%); Efrat (46%); And Modi’in (30%). All of these localities are relatively close to Jerusalem, and it is easy to see that the spatial element exists, but it is not clear whether these students chose to move to communities around Jerusalem following their studies in the city, or the other way around, they chose to study in Jerusalem after they were already residents of the metropolis. Unfortunately the answer to this question does not exist in these data, but it does exist in other data that we recently received, and in time we will analyze them as well.

It seems that the choice of Tel Aviv University also has a strong spatial dimension, with the localities in which Tel Aviv is the main choice (with the exception of the city of Tel Aviv itself), being Bat Yam; Holon; Ramat Hasharon; Herzliya; and Hod Hasharon. We have also identified a similar trend in the choice of other universities.