Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will begin a $15 million upgrade (NIS 55 million) in advance of the transfer of Israel Defense Forces technology units to Beersheva and the Negev region.

The funds will be used as part of the $100 million expansion of the University’s north campus to expand and upgrade buildings, hire additional academic and administrative staff, and absorb additional students in technology-related subjects.

The investment was announced by an inter-ministerial committee, including representatives from the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Finance, Prime Minister’s Office, and Committee for Higher Education Planning and Finance.

The IDF move, which is scheduled to take place in stages in the coming years, is expected to spark a sharp increase in applications for engineering and exact science programs.

The Ministry of Defense and BGU expect that up to 70 percent of the 1,000 students who undertake academic studies while also serving in the IDF intelligence and computer corps, as well as their spouses, will apply for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

As such, the university will build approximately 161,450 square feet of classroom and administrative space to accommodate the additional students.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Itzik Cohen, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry team overseeing the move, said his office was working to prepare infrastructure that will enable tens of thousands of IDF soldiers to serve in the Negev in the coming years.

“Our cooperation with BGU will lead to a spike in admissions, which the military encourages as a way to ensure high-quality personnel,” he said. “It will also reinforce the academia-defense establishment community outreach eco-system that exists in the Negev region.”