NEW YORK, October 19, 2011—More than 1,000 Iraqi students, eager to pursue graduate education in the United States, attended the first EducationUSA University Fair in Iraq. The students traveled from across Iraq to meet representatives from 21 U.S. higher education institutions and impressed the U.S. university representatives with their strong academic credentials, and interest and enthusiasm for coming to the United States.
The fair, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and implemented by the Institute of International Education, took place in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan Region) from October 14-15, 2011. With the goal of increasing the number of Iraqi students at colleges and universities in the United States, this fair provided participating institutions with an opportunity to talk directly with interested students and share with them the programs and academic options available on U.S. campuses.
Students were also able to participate in special sessions on topics such as “Applying for Graduate School in the United States,” “Tips on the Student Visa Process,” “Tips on Writing a Personal Statement/Admissions Essay,” "Preparing for Standardized Tests,” and “Student Life in the USA: Alumni Perspectives.”
The participating institutions were: DePaul University, Eastern Washington University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Michigan State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Missouri State University, Murray State University, Portland State University, Seton Hall University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Arizona, University of Arkansas, University of Cincinnati, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, University of New Haven, Utah State University, Valparaiso University, Western Kentucky University, and the Educational Testing Service.
Prior to the fair, IIE, in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil convened a symposium, bringing together the U.S. educators with key Iraqi policymakers. The symposium, “Promoting U.S.-Iraq Academic Cooperation,” explored recent developments in higher education in Iraq and opportunities related to graduate education in the United States.
Alexander Laskaris, the Consul General of the United States in Erbil, provided opening remarks and stressed the importance for closer academic cooperation and the need for more Iraqi students to pursue graduate education in the United States. Key government figures from across Iraq participated in the event. Special guests included Kemal Kerkuki, Speaker of the Parliament, Kurdistan Regional Government; Dlawer Al-Adeen, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Kurdish Region of Iraq; Waleed A. Mahmoud Al-Jawher, Director General of Scholarships Directorate, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Baghdad; the Deputy Minister of Planning; the mayor of Erbil; several university presidents; and many other dignitaries.
Representatives of several of the major Iraqi scholarship programs provided the U.S. educators with an update on the programs and also emphasized their goal to send more of their students to the United States. Of the thousands of students currently on Iraqi government scholarships, only several hundred of them are pursuing their graduate degrees in the United States, with higher numbers going to other host countries, such as the UK, Germany, or even Malaysia.
- The Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, which provides scholarships for Master’s and PhD studies abroad, announced a dramatic increase in the budget for the scholarship program and will provide 10,000 scholarships in the next years.
- The Higher Committee for Education Development (HCED) in Iraq, a separate scholarship program, will provide 1,000 scholarships in 2011.
- The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research also recently launched the Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP), a major scholarship program with an annual budget of $100 million. The HCDP Program will soon award the third round of 1,000 scholarships.
- The KRG Ministry of Planning also announced a new program that will provide 1,000 scholarships for graduate education and short-term training to employees of the other various KRG Ministries.
Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education (IIE), a private not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. IIE designs and implements over 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs, the Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the Humphrey Fellowships, administered for the U.S. Department of State, as well as corporate and foundation training and scholarship programs. IIE also conducts policy research, provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad, and provides emergency support to students and scholars in danger. The Institute of International Education has a network of 18 international offices worldwide and more than 1,000 college and university members.