Informational Session – May 2009
The Director of the Iraq Education Initiative, Dr. Zuhair Humadi, spoke to a packed room at NAFSA 2009 about the bold program initiated by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to update and reform the education system in Iraq. The two phased program begins with the scholarship initiative – sending 50,000 students in the next 5 years to US, UK, Canada, and Australia. The second phase involves the overhaul of the entire educational system in Iraq from K-12 and higher education.
The initiative was launched in January of 2009 (read more about the educational fair held in Iraq here) and a pilot program to send 500 students to the United States and United Kingdom by the Fall of 2009 was launched. The government of Iraq has set aside $54 million to ensure the launch of the pilot program on time.
Scholarships are awarded proportional to the population in each of the 18 provinces/governorates allowing students from less advantaged regions of the country the same chance of receiving an award. While student’s grades are the main criteria for selection, the applicant must also be an Iraqi citizen residing in Iraq for 2 years prior to application and agree to return to Iraq to serve the same number of years as that of study.
The students are selected on the formulaic criteria that includes their grades, age, and the governate/province of residence. To ensure students from all over the country will have fair access to the higher education scholarship, the number of scholarships given out are proportional to the population in each province in Iraq.
- Iraqi citizen residing in Iraq for 2 years prior to scholarship application
- Excellent record of academic achievement
- Agree to return to Iraq to serve for the same number of years as years of study
2-year Program Scholarship eligibility requirements:
- High school graduate
- Minimum baccalaureate score of 80%
4-year Program Scholarship eligibility requirements:
- High school graduate
- Top 10% of class
- Less than 22 years of age
- Completed undergraduate program
- Top 10% of undergraduate class
ALL fields of study and degrees are covered by this scholarship and will be considered. There is no list of pre-approved majors or schools.
The director discussed the creation of the American University Iraq Consortium, the initial group of 22 universities who sent representatives to Iraq in January 2009 are the core group included in the initial consortium. The consortium is open, however, to all interested accredited US higher education institutions.
The objective of the consortium is to streamline the placement process for Iraqi students, and not to create a “list” of approved Universities. USEG believes that by being included as part of the consortium, schools will learn first about any changes or approvals to the scholarship and will have a strong chance of student placement early in the program.
The Director of the program requested the following from the Universities to help place Iraqi students & accelerating the admissions process for the Iraqi students:
- Provide students who meet admissions requirements but need English language improvement with provisional (conditional) admissions
- Assign an admissions liaison to serve as the only point person for Iraqi student applications
- Assign a campus liaison to advice students on housing options and other details
- Admit students on J-1 visa as to ensure their return to Iraq
- Provide information of accredited degrees
- Preference will go to institutions with ESL/Intensive English programs
While there will be no caps placed on students attending a specific school, the program prefers the students to be spaced out in different parts of the country. Placement of the students will be done by the office in Baghdad, which is currently still training personnel on the international education system. Students are also able to choose and apply to any school on their own, there is no requirement for them to be placed by the commission or program personnel.
Additional information will be made available soon, as will the application for the students. The website for the program is not yet live, but will be soon, you will be able to find the information here: