The Iraqi parliament approved a law last week that will provide university students with financial aid to help them meet some of their expenses.
Member of the parliament's higher education committee Ashour al-Karbouli said the parliament passed a law that will provide education stipends for nine months of each study year to students with limited income and covered by the ration card system.
"Under this law, a monthly stipend of 100,000 dinars ($86) will be given to every student attending undergraduate day studies (except during summer) at all state colleges and institutes, and 150,000 dinars ($129) will be given to students in graduate programmes," he said.
Students at private and evening colleges and institutes, students who failed and students with high-ranking jobs (such as jobs with the title general director and above) are excluded from the stipend system because their monthly income exceeds 1.5 million dinars ($1,288), according to al-Karbouli.
"The mechanism for paying the stipend to qualified students has not been determined yet," he said. "We will meet with representatives from the finance and higher education ministries [so we can] consult and co-ordinate to determine special instructions for the stipend and draft a mechanism to ensure smooth disbursement of the funds to students."
"The stipends will be funded during the next academic year (2012-2013) with an overall budget of about 150 billion dinars ($129 million)," al-Karbouli said.
Riyadh al-Zaidi, also a member of the parliament's higher education committee, said the stipend law was ratified after months-long discussions during which officials amended some paragraphs to make the final version acceptable to all, even though it did not meet everyone's ambitions.
"The committee wanted to make the stipend applicable to the largest number of students possible, but because of the limited funds allocated for the law in this year's budget, certain segments of university students were excluded," al-Zaidi said.
Qassim Mohammed Jabbar, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, described the approval of the stipend law as "an important step complementing the ministry's efforts to enhance the scientific movement in the country and improve the situation of Iraqi students".
"The stipend will be paid to qualified students through government banks after [we reach an] agreement with the Ministry of Finance in this regard and formulate specific conditions and guidelines for payment," Jabbar said.
Nashaat Rahim, a 23-year old student at Baghdad University's College of Arts, welcomed the introduction of the stipend.
"The amount of the stipend will not be sufficient to meet all our needs, but it will certainly help in paying some of the expenses," Rahim said.
Marwa Radhi, a 21-year old student at Al-Nahrain University's College of Engineering, said she hopes "the stipend amount will be increased so that students can benefit even more from it".