Iraq: Union presents a plan to develop higher education and research

published 22 February 2022 updated 25 February 2022

The Kurdistan Teachers' Union (KTU) and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research held a joint meeting aiming at taking stock of the situation of higher education in this Iraqi region as well as developing it.

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Aram Muhammad Qadr, ministry advisors and directors general, as well as KTU leaders and members of the union secretariat, participated in this important meeting.

KTU President Abdalwahed M. Haje recalled that there are 16 governmental universities, 15 private universities, and 12 technical institutes in Kurdistan. There are 10,000 teachers in these universities and institutes who have got master and doctoral degrees and are teaching 150,000 students in different fields of study, he said.

Higher education and research, crucial to strengthen the pillars of the state and society

He went on to stress the importance of higher education and scientific research, “as it is a significant tool to produce experts and skilled individuals -strengthening the pillars of the state and society”.

He urged the Kurdistan’s Regional Government to:

  • Take adequate financial measures based on the 2015 measures and regulations, which includes 6% of the national income or 20% of the government's annual budget to go to education.
  • Restore the universities’ full financial capacity to continuously help improve scientific research.
  • Make radical changes, particularly in education programmes, to fit the needs of the labour market and produce more skilled high-level workers.
  • Make sure government public universities are given enough attention and support to reduce the differences between them and private universities in terms of science and education quality. Students must be given an equal opportunity by being able to complete their studies for free and getting the best education possible.

The KTU Committee for the universities and institutes also presented the minister with a project of five points to be investigated in detail and included in the ministry’s work programme:

  1. Rescinding the decision to exclude marks obtained in Kurdish and Arabic subjects while deciding whether to accept students in medical, engineering and science colleges.
  2. Granting three extra marks, i.e. an equivalent of 21 marks, to students who can pass all exams in the first session of the first year of their ministerial exams.
  3. Granting one extra mark, which is equal to 7 marks, to students who are able to pass in the second sitting of the first year of their final ministerial exams.
  4. Giving students 90 marks in the subjects of biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics, so that they can be accepted in medical, engineering and science colleges.
  5. Providing and selecting some seats for teachers working for the Ministry of Education in masters and doctoral studies.

Ministerial plan for higher education and research

Minister Qadr also emphasised KTU’s important role and took under consideration all suggestions and recommendations looking to improve and develop higher education and scientific research.

He highlighted the ministerial plan which his ministry is looking forward to implementing with the help of key stakeholders in education, especially with the help of KTU.

The main points of the Ministry’s plan are:

  • Paying attention to vocational education, in particular to the three polytechnic universities and twelve institutes. These institutions should be developed and open additional departments.
  • Offering and providing education, especially to students with little financial capacity.
  • Following and monitoring private universities closely, so they can best carry out higher education and research activities. Investments might include building apartments, study halls and facilities, improving scientific programmes, leading quality assurance surveys, and enhancing the scientific background of teachers.
  • Recording research and investigations on important issues such as climate change, human rights and gender equality.