Monitoring Quality in Arab Higher Education
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research grants tentative licenses to public and private universities, but final approval for licenses has to come from the Council of Ministers, a presidential-level cabinet. The Private Higher Education Council oversees licensing of private institutions, but again final approval is made by the Council of Ministers. The council also sets each university’s tuition each year. (For details of the regulations, click here.)
The requirements that higher-education institutions must meet in order to obtain a license are:
- Proof of sufficient funding to cover expenses. It is not clear from publicly available documents how a determination is made that the founders of a university hold enough capital.
- The institution must employ members of national unions of professors and similar educational and cultural organizations.
- The institution must employ members of scientific associations.
For requirements two and three, the organization’s headquarters have to be inside Iraq, have no foreign affiliations outside Iraq, and to have been established for at least five years. They should have notable contributions in developing higher education and scientific research through serious and continuous participation in scientific seminars and conferences both inside and outside Iraq.
The disciplines to be taught at a proposed new university should be needed in Iraq’s development. A special committee formed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning, decides which disciplines are needed in the country.
A bachelor’s degree granted by any university has to require at least four years of study. The Ministry of Higher Education stresses that students should check to be sure a university is accredited before enrolling.
The Apparatus of Supervision and Scientific Evaluation monitors the quality of education at both public and private universities. That agency also supervises students’ dormitories, extracurricular activities and clubs.
Each university is required by law to have a department of educational quality.
To try to prevent conflicts of interest and corruption, Iraqi regulations require that an institution’s founders include at least nine retired or unemployed professors with master’s or doctoral degrees. This requirement is designed to avoid founders who have other jobs that might create a conflict of interest, and to avoid universities being started by those with only commercial interests.
On the universities’ founding staff, there should be at least five professors who have previously held the rank of assistant professor; they must present documents for review and approval. If they are from another country, their documents have to be certified by their country and certified by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Despite these regulations, politicians own some private universities and use professors as “front men,” some experts interviewed said.
There are 35 public universities and 51 private universities operating in Iraq, according to 2016 statistics from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Fifteen public universities and 14 private universities fall under the supervision of the Kurdistan Regional Government.