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UK furthers education links with Kurdistan

UK Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, met with Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, Minister of Higher Education in Kurdistan, today to explore how UK universities can support the development of the Kurdistan scholarship programme.

The UK is already the preferred destination for students from Iraqi Kurdistan wanting to study abroad.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has allocated US$100 million per year for new PhD and Masters Programmes over the next four years as part of the Human Capacity Development Programme, and they are keen to engage with more UK universities in order to deliver it.

Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Iraq. Speaking at the ‘Bridging the Knowledge Gap’ conference in London today, Willetts said: “I am delighted that the Minister and his colleagues have chosen the UK to support their scholarship programme. It is a great reflection of how favourably our universities are viewed around the world.”

He added that the UK is “already experienced in exporting our excellent educational services to Kurdistan”; in October, 2011 Leicester University opened an English Language Centre in the University of Kurdistan-Haler and the British Council also has a base at the University of Salahaddin.

The British Council also has a base at the University of Salahaddin

“These academic programmes that stretch across international borders offer huge benefits to all involved,” continued Willetts, “and not just commercially. International engagement brings cultural benefits and the opportunities to share knowledge, research and expertise which will in turn boost our own economy.”

The UK is already the preferred destination for students from Iraqi Kurdistan wanting to study abroad. Between 70% and 80% of students awarded Kurdistan scholarships choose to study at UK universities compared with those who choose to study in France (10%) or the USA (7%). There is in fact an extensive list of study destinations that students can choose from.

Speaking at last week’s English UK Marketing Conference, Bayan Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s High Representative to the UK, said at least 3,000 scholarship students were already in the UK. Scholarships cover tuition and living fees and can accommodate an English language learning element as a precusor to academic study.

The new scholarship programmes will include specialist courses in areas such social sciences, agriculture, health, archaeology and petroleum studies.

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