Iraqi students look to Fulbright scholarship to contribute to country's development

[Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images] Iraqis need a bachelor's degree and a 550 on their TOEFL to apply.

[Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images] Iraqis need a bachelor's degree and a 550 on their TOEFL to apply.

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Rana Hasan has always dreamed about completing her graduate studies at a US university.

She said a diploma from a US university "would help me develop my country in the future".

Last month, Rana's dream came true.

She passed the Fulbright test and her application for a scholarship for the 2010-2011 academic year was approved.

"This scholarship will further boost my maturity and my capabilities so that I may contribute to the development of Iraq in the future through my specialization in business administration," she said.

Last year, the program doubled the number of Iraqi students receiving scholarships from 35 to 70 after the Iraqi government committed $2.5 million to the program.

"The goal behind the expansion of the academic program is that we want the US academic elite to meet with their Iraqi counterparts and build knowledge bridges that will open the door for the exchange of knowledge and culture," said Rafiq Mansur, cultural and educational adviser at the US Embassy in Baghdad.

"We are happy for this academic and cultural cooperation which will, of course, enhance the capabilities and experiences of students and different universities and institutions in Iraq -- something that will contribute to the building and development of the country," Mansur told Mawtani.

According to Mansur, 245 male and female Iraqi students have participated in the Fulbright program since 2003.

The Fulbright scholarship is one of the most prestigious academic scholarship programs in the world. Late US Senator William Fulbright launched the program in 1946 for distinguished students from all over the world.

For years, the program, which is now sponsored by the US Department of State, has been working to enable Iraqi students to obtain a master's or doctorate in humanities and social sciences, to build leadership skills, and to enrich cultural awareness with Americans.

Applicants to the Fulbright program must have bachelor's degree and score at least 550 on the TOEFL English exam.

"We have a strong desire to consolidate relations with our US partners by signing more bilateral agreements on academic and scientific partnership," said Hafiz Mohammed, head of psychology studies at the University of Kufa.

"The cultural cooperation between Baghdad and Washington does not only include scholarships, but there are also different activities and events that come within the framework of the twinning program between US and Iraqi universities," he said.

The twinning program links five Iraqi universities with five US universities to review curricula, provide on-line courses and scientific dialogue, build career development centers at Iraqi universities, and exchange students and teaching staff.

"Iraq is in dire need of communication with the world through scholarship, mission, and fellowship programs, and by signing protocols and memorandums of understanding aimed at supporting the higher education sector in the country," said Ali Luqman, a teacher at the University of Baghdad.

"We want to get acquainted with the latest studies and research work, apply new and advanced educational tools, and acquire practical and scientific experiences like our counterparts in the developed countries," he said.

Recent recipients of the scholarship are looking forward to their experience in the United States.

"I feel extremely happy because I have the opportunity to study in the United States," said Saif Ammar. "I will return here after two academic years to dedicate the experience that I will acquire in the field of economics for the service of Iraq."

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  • READER COMMENTS

    البااوشى

    2010-10-31

    With regard to scholarships, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research needs to revise its policies to ensure that students are chosen according to their educational level and excellence, rather than through favoritism, which affects the interests of the state and its education. This issue has undermined confidence in the work of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. All students should be treated and approved fairly, according to clear conditions and criteria, without favoritism.

  • شاكر الصديق

    2010-10-31

    The issue of the official scholarships is suspicious, and it angered many excellent students who failed to obtain any of these scholarships to acquire more knowledge and improve their skills. In fact, these suspicions are caused by the way the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research handles the process of choosing the eligible students to be sent with scholarships to study at the European or American universities. This process is unfair to many of the applicants, and they do not know the mechanism by which the students are chosen and approved. They feel that they have all the necessary qualifications and meet all the conditions, but eventually other applicants are chosen, despite the fact that they hold inferior educational qualifications, because they have powerful relatives or friends. On the other hand, those who do not have powerful relatives or friends are treated unfairly in regards to obtaining the scholarships.

  • حسين الكعبي

    2010-8-28

    It is with science and knowledge that people progress, countries thrive and civilizations develop. It is nice that students can complete their education at a non-stop pace. I also hope that sharing of scientific research will be adopted between the Iraqi universities and the European and Western universities, since it is not in favor of science to remain closed in on itself, but it should be open to all countries of the world that are benefiting from the scientific progress in the world. Also, they should prepare scholarships, delegations and scientific cooperation at all levels. Iraq and the Iraqi universities should not live in a closed circle. I have a Bachelor of Business Management. I hope to get an opportunity to complete my education in the USA, but I have to pass the TOEFL exam first. May God support us all. May peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you. Your brother, Hussein Al-Kaabi.

  • ahmad abd al salam

    2010-8-27

    I would like to learn the English language properly.

  • محمد ابن الموصل

    2010-8-2

    Iraq, in the current new phase in which it seeks earnestly to develop and move forward, seriously needs to send missions of Iraqi students to study in various developed countries in America and Europe, so they will receive knowledge by modern methods; it needs to support them in all available ways, especially intelligent students, because they will greatly benefit the country. Sending missions of excellent students continuously to study abroad and graduate from the best universities in the world means that these students will change the reality of Iraq quickly, and will achieve the desired progress. But it is important not only for them to graduate from such universities, but more importantly, for them to be provided with support when they return to the country, by opening sophisticated projects and bringing the latest equipment for them in all the centers of Iraq, so that they can work with them.

  • علي ثامر

    2010-8-1

    Thanks.

  • JAFAR

    2010-7-28

    The important thing is to return and serve the homeland.

  • اثير الخفاجي

    2010-7-23

    In short, this article motivates every person with ambition, every well-educated person ‎who has reached a certain level of education. Frankly, I hope to get an opportunity to complete my studies to specialize more and more in my field of work in the banking industry. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration and Economy, Financial and Banking Sciences, but I believe that I will serve my country better if I complete the second level of my study. Honestly, this is the dream of every ambitious young man and woman, especially given the development of the cultural level in Iraq. Iraq is now witnessing a significant development in the class of employees who languish in their work during the daytime and study in the evening. Frankly, IMHO I consider this as a form of jihad. Thank you very much and accept my appreciation. Your brother, Athir Al-Khafaji.

  • محمد الفلاحي

    2010-7-23

    Security and development will prevail in Iraq, God willing. We have gotten bored. We want to live and enjoy our life. I swear, we have been exhausted and lost our patience. We have despaired of our life. O Allah, help Iraq enjoy peace and security.