Decline of Higher Education in Iraq continues

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The University of Kufa (pictured) declared on its website Sept. 6 that it ranked 701st among the world’s best universities, according to QS World University Rankings.

This is great news for the reputation of the country's universities, since most Iraqi universities are not included in any global university rankings.

Nevertheless, this achievement does not mean that Iraqi universities have overcome their problems, mainly the demand of students for an improvement in the education system. The student protests in Kufa that took place March 10 subsequently spread to the north and south of the country.

On Feb. 25, students from the University of Muthanna in Samawah, al-Muthanna province, banned then-Minister of Higher Education Hussein al-Shahristani from entering the campus, as they believed he had failed to improve tertiary education and provide essential academic facilities to Iraqi universities. On Aug. 30, university students in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, boycotted classes because of the lack of financial grants for students.

The education sector in Iraq has been dealt several blows; for instance, the University of Kirkuk has witnessed national and sectarian strife, which caused its Shiite Turkmen dean to resign on May 4, 2015, after the Kurds expressed objections against him.

In this regard, Nader Abdullah, a professor at the University of Babylon, told Al-Monitor that the student protests are the natural results of the ongoing crises in the country.

He said, "They reflect the dire conditions of the higher education sector; the high ranking of the University of Kufa was at a scientific research level only. Iraq’s universities lag behind the universities of the world because of low-level management and centralized decisions, which affects the knowledge product and weakens the university's’ participation in the building of society. This is not to mention the declining academic and scientific level of the graduates.”

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