Corruption, Deceit Plague Private Education in Iraq

By Salam Zidane for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

It's said that some college degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Some graduates in Iraq are finding that to be true. Others can't even get the paper.

Dozens of students protested March 8 in front of the private Mazaya College, calling on the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to accredit their university and issue diplomas.

Mohammed al-Ghazi, who graduated two years ago from the college in southeastern Iraq, said the school still refuses to grant him and others their degrees, instead saying the ministry is reviewing them.

“I spent millions of dinars [1 million dinars equals about $860] at Mazaya College to obtain a degree in computer engineering. After I completed my fourth year, I found out that the college wasn't accredited and its degree is worthless on the market,” Ghazi told Al-Monitor.

After the protests, the ministry decided March 14 that it will develop a special test for Mazaya graduates and that if they pass it, they will be considered qualified in their field of study and receive a certificate from the ministry. The ministry hasn't yet started the process, which it expects to be complicated and lengthy.

In December, Iraq and five other Arab countries were removed from the World Economic Forum (WEF) global education quality index because their schools don't meet basic education standards. The other countries are Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

Arab countries that made the list, with their ranking, are: Qatar, 4; United Arab Emirates, 10; Lebanon, 25; Bahrain, 33; Jordan, 45; and Saudi Arabia, 54. The index includes 140 countries.

After 2003, when the Iraq war began, many international and foreign universities stopped recognizing Iraqi university degrees because their standards couldn't be verified. Iraqis are asked to take proficiency tests before being admitted to some universities abroad. In the United States, each institution develops its own standards and requirements; many use credential verification services.

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