University of Kurdistan close to agreement with Bradford University (UK)

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jun 6 12:29:15 UTC 2006

University of Kurdistan close to agreement with Bradford University

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The University of Kurdistan Hawler will be opened in Erbil, the capital of
the Kurdistan Region, in September 2006. Professor Abbas Vali, the Rector
of the new university, explains in this interview the reasons for
establishing the university, how it will be run and his hopes for
reforming/modernising higher education in Kurdistan. Abbas Vali is the
Rector of the University of Kurdistan Hawler. He is a political theorist
and specialist in the politics of the modern Middle East. Professor Vali
taught at the University of Wales, Swansea in the UK from 1985 to 2004 and
at Bogazici University in Istanbul from 2004 to 2006. He has written and
published extensively on aspects of modern Middle Eastern history and
politics, especially on Iranian history and politics and the Kurdish
Question in the Middle East.

Q: What are the guiding principles and mission of the University of

Vali: Its mission is to provide free education in English to motivated and
eligible students in key subjects that are needed for the development of
the Kurdistan Region, in particular the unified Kurdish administration.
The university will give Kurdish students access to world class education
and research.

The guiding principle is that the students will receive an education and
qualification that meets high internationally recognised standards. That
is why all of the courses will be validated by Bradford University in the
UK. Bradford University will monitor the curricula, the quality of
teaching and the process of examination. Arrangements are also being made
for Bradford University to accredit the University of Kurdistans degrees.
We will very soon sign a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with
Bradford, leading to a contract for collaboration.

Q: Why was English chosen as the language of instruction for all of the

Vali: We chose English for two reasons. First, English is the universal
language of the modern social, political sciences as well as economics,
management and business studies, and information technology. At present
throughout the world at least 70 percent of texts in these subjects are
published in English. Kurdish, and for that matter Arabic, Persian and
Turkish, though highly developed literary languages, are not the language
of modern social sciences. Those who teach social sciences in these
languages would testify to this fact.

Secondly, the degree courses will be validated by Bradford University - a
British university. There could be no grounds for academic collaboration
if we do not have a common language.

Q: Who can apply to study at the University of Kurdistan? How many
students will you accept in your first year, which starts in September

Vali: Students of any gender, age, religion and ethnicity can apply to
study at the University of Kurdistan - Hawler. Students will be accepted
on the basis of their academic ability, knowledge and personal motivation.
They have to satisfy the academic criteria for entry - that is the
fundamental requirement.

The university will accept applicants mainly from the Kurdistan Region.
Although the university is located in Erbil, it is by no means only for
Kurds from Erbil. Students from other cities in the Kurdistan Region are
equally eligible to apply. Kurdish students from Suleimaniah, Koya,
Kirkuk, Dahok, Rawandoz and Erbil have equal rights to study in this
university. The university professes to a Kurdistani ethos in its
Constitution. It is therefore opposed to and defies political or
geographical regionalism in Kurdistan.

We will admit 400 students in September 2006. From the 400 places, we will
accept perhaps around 80 Kurdish students from neighbouring countries. A
number of non-Kurdish students from other parts of Iraq will also be
admitted in accordance with the rules governing the federal administration
in Iraq. All applicants have to fulfil the selection criteria for entry.

Q: What is the selection procedure?

Vali: Applicants have to fulfil three conditions to be accepted at the
University of Kurdistan. First, they should have completed secondary
school with a grade of at least 75% in the Baccalaureat. Then they have to
sit a written English exam set by Bradford University, our validating and
accrediting university. Finally, if they pass the written exam, they will
attend an oral interview to assess their academic ability and motivation.

Q: What degrees do you offer and how long are the courses?

Vali: Initially the university will be small, concentrating on economics
and political and social sciences. To be precise, we will offer degrees in
six academic departments: politics and international relations; sociology
and social work; economics and finance; management and business studies;
information technology; and modern history.

If after the first two years the scheme is successful, we may expand the
degrees offered to humanities and exact sciences as well. We will also
offer Masters degrees in these subjects. Masters programmes are scheduled
to start in September 2007. We are planning to offer doctoral programmes
at the same time as the Masters programmes.

All undergraduate courses take four years: a foundation year plus the
degree course for three years. The first year is a foundation course in
English, information technology and a number of introductory social
science courses shared by all disciplines. The aim of the foundation
course is to prepare students for the rigours of a university degree
programme in English. At the end of the first year, if students pass all
the exams, including and specially the English test, they will be admitted
to their preferred degree course for the following three years.

Q: Where is the University of Kurdistan located?

Vali: A very large plot of land in the vicinity of Erbil has been
allocated for the campus, but it will take three or more years to build
the facilities. For now, the university will be housed in a temporary
building, which is being erected near the Erbil International Hotel and
should be completed by the end of June 2006.

Q: Is there accommodation for students?

Vali: For the academic year 2006-2007, the university will rent
accommodation in Erbil for staff and the students coming from outside the
capital. Students who are from Erbil will live with their families. In the
long run however the students will be accommodated in halls of residence
on the campus.

Q: Who is on the academic staff of the University of Kurdistan?

Vali: Only native English speakers and fully qualified teachers of English
as a foreign language will teach English in the foundation year. English
language teaching will be managed as a distinct department. The lecturers
and professors for the degree programmes are mainly from abroad; Western
or Kurdish academics teaching in Western universities, some young
academics but mostly established and experienced staff with a good track
record in teaching, research and publication.

Q: How does the University of Kurdistan fit into the Regions education

Vali: It is funded by the Kurdistan Regional Government and like the other
universities in Kurdistan, it offers free education. However, the
university is autonomous in terms of its administration and academic
arrangements including the choice of curricula, provision of teaching,
conduct of exams and method of assessment and degrees. It takes into
consideration the rules and regulations of the KRGs Ministry of Higher
Education, but only with regard to the general framework for the
administration of university education. It is otherwise autonomous and
does not fall under its jurisdiction on the matters stated above.

Q: In your view, why is the University of Kurdistan important to the

Vali: The Kurdistan Region needs a strong and cohesive modern
intelligentsia that is scientific, technical and rational. It needs
educated cadres, civil servants and entrepreneurs who will contribute to
Kurdistan at a critical time in its development.

Description of the University of Kurdistan - Hawler
The University of Kurdistan Hawler is a new initiative in the federal
region of Kurdistan in Iraq, funded by the Regional Government of
Kurdistan. It is an independent public institution, and it will maintain
this independence as an indispensable condition of teaching, learning and
research. Initially it will offer degrees in Economics and Finance,
Management and Business Studies, Politics and International Relations,
Sociology and Social Work, Modern History and Information technology, but
in the coming years it will expand to teach humanities and natural
sciences as well. The medium of instruction and research is English.

Mission statement
The University is committed to excellence in teaching and research. It
will offer a free education at undergraduate and postgraduate level to
students from all over Kurdistan. It is dedicated to inclusivity, equality
and the highest standards of integrity in public life. It will have a
central role in the renovation and renaissance of Kurdish society and
culture in Iraq.

The Universitys primary aim is the furthering of knowledge in the service
of the people of the region. It will do this through:

1. Encouraging excellence in teaching and research

The University will be a hub of intellectual and cultural activity in the
region and beyond.

It will encourage and support research and teaching of the highest
academic standard among its staff.

Through its dedicated research centres, it will generate research that
will advance knowledge and inform policy and decision-making.

It will establish educational, teaching and research links with other
universities in the region and internationally.

2. Contributing to social and political development

The University will play an active part in the development of a vibrant
civil society and public sphere.

It will work to enhance public awareness of civic and democratic rights
and principles, and to address the specific social and cultural problems
of a war-torn society.

Its graduates will be equipped with an understanding of modern scholarship
in the social, economic and political sciences and of the principles of
democratic culture, enabling them to assist in the construction of civil
society and democratic governmental institutions.

It will support the regional government in building and consolidating
modern democratic institutions and processes, to enhance the federal
democratic culture of the new Iraq.

3. Widening access

The University will offer free tuition and maintenance to students from
all over Kurdistan, providing education for all those who qualify for
entry regardless of their social and economic circumstances.

It is committed to equality of opportunity for all students irrespective
of gender, ethnicity or religion.

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