Oct 10 2012
By Adel Kadhem
Azzaman, October 10, 2012
More than 175,000 high-school graduates have applied to join universities in Iraq, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has said.
The number is believed to be the largest ever, indicating that the country’s education system is back on its feet following years of problems blamed on violence that swept the country in the aftermath of the 2003-U.S. invasion.
Universities are now present across the country and state-run institutions attract the largest number of students.
But private universities are available and the ministry says tens of thousands of students opt to apply directly to these institutions.
Private universities have their own application rules.
“The number of students applying to join (state-run) universities across the country this year has reached 175,668,” said Qassem Jabbar, the ministry’s spokesperson.
Many Iraqi universities currently offer post-graduate studies leading to Ph.D. degrees in various sciences and disciplines.
Iraq used to have one of the best educational systems in the Middle East and students from across the region sought seats at its universities.
But the system started crumbling in late 1980s and onwards due to wars and U.N. trade sanctions, compelling some of its best faculty to flee.
The system, however, suffered its severest blow after the U.S. invasion when scores of Iraqi professors were assassinated or kidnapped, leading to a mass exodus of intelligentsia to foreign countries, particularly Jordan and Arab Gulf states.
The return of some semblance of normalcy to the country, officials say, is luring some exile professor to return and assume their former teaching posts.
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