Atuda, or Academic Atuda (Hebrew: עתודה אקדמית, literally: Academic Reserve), is a program of the Israeli Defense Forces which enables youngsters who are intended to join the army as soldiers, to study academic studies prior to their military service. After they complete their studies, they join the army and serve at a position that fits the professional knowledge they gained during their studies.
The standard age in which new soldiers join the Israeli Defense Forces, 18 years old, usually brings the army soldiers with at most high school education. In many fields the army needs soldiers with a much broader education and with an academic background, such as engineers, physicians and lawyers. That is the purpose the Atuda program serves.
An Israeli soldier which participates in the Atuda program is called Atudai (Hebrew: עתודאי). After finishing his studies, the Atudai serves three years of obligatory service in the army, such as any other soldier, and then serves another three years of regular service. The difference between obligatory service and regular service is, among other things, in the paycheck the soldier gets. Usually he goes through an officer training after his studies and before starting his obligatory service.
The tuition payments the Atudai is required to pay for his studies are partially paid by the army.
In addition to the Academic Atuda program, the IDF also operates the Technologic Atuda (Hebrew: עתודה טכנולוגית) program, which serves the same purpose as the Academic Atuda, by training future soldiers in technologic study fields. But, in this program the training is usually shorter (one or two years instead of three or four), usually takes place in colleges instead of universities, and in the end of the training the future soldiers get a technician or a practical engineer diploma.
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