limiting the number of students in universities and colleges according to a discriminatory rule.
Before the Second World War the limitations were usually based, in eastern Europe, on the religion of the student, as the number of students of Jewish origin was limited.
The limitation took the form of total prohibition of Jewish students, or of limiting the number of Jewish students so that their share in the students' population would be not larger than their share in the general population.
Countries legislating limitations on the admission of Jewish students
Jews who wanted education used various ways to handle this obstacle: bribing the authorities, changing their religion, or traveling to countries without such limitations. In Hungary, for example, 5,000 Jewish youngsters (including Edward Teller) left the country after the introduction of Numerus Clausus.
- In Russia Numerus Clausus was enacted in 1887, stating that the share of Jewish students should be no more than 10% in cities where Jews were allowed to live, 5% in other cities, and only 3% in Moscow and St. Petersburg. These limitations were deleted after the revolution of 1917.
- In Hungary a Numerus Clausus Act was introduced in 1920, as part of the rise of Anti-Semitism under the government of Miklos Horthy. It was said that Jewish students would be no more than 6% of the student population (this was the share of Jews in the general population), compared to 30% before the war. Limitations were relaxed in 1928.
- Poland tried to introduce a formal Numerus Clausus law in 1923, but faced objections from the League of Nations. However Numerus Clausus was introduced unofficially by the universities and the share of Jewish students was limited to 10%, much less than the proportion of Jews in the population of Poland. In 1937, with the rise of Anti-Semitism, acceptance of Jewish students was totally prohibited.
- In Romania Numerus Clausus was introduced in 1926.
- In the United States, limitations on the enrollment of Jewish students to the universities were practiced unofficially in the 1920s, especially in the northeastern universities.