Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has begun providing ₪18 million ($5.25 million) in financial aid to its students as of July 26.

The SOS Coronavirus Student Assistance Fund was launched two weeks ago through a special “Save the Class of COVID-19” campaign supported by the university’s associate organizations worldwide.

“A lot of students have lost their jobs and the university administration is apprehensive that they will begin to drop out if they have no income,” BGU explained in a press statement.

BGU, established 50 years ago, is the fastest-growing research university in Israel, with 20,000 students and 4,000 staff and faculty members. It has campuses in Beersheva, Sde Boker and Eilat.

The new aid will first be distributed automatically to students who received a scholarship in the past academic year. Additional students may apply through the Office of the Dean of Students.

Although several American universities are providing emergency scholarships and tuition waivers due to the current situation, BGU says its campaign is unprecedented in Israeli academia. Thus far, more than half the target amount has been raised.

BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz said, “BGU’s students represent the scientific, economic and technological future of the State of Israel in general and are the catalysts for the development of the Negev in particular. As a result of the crisis, we are afraid that the students of the ‘Class of COVID-19’ might not be able to continue their studies as planned. It is up to us to do everything we can not to leave a single student behind.”