January 18, 2023

Higher Education Across Borders: Iraqi government ministers and university professors visit Türkiye

An intensive study trip brings together professors from Iraqi and Turkish universities, as well as delegates from the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education, to improve the higher education system in Iraq. 

During a four-day study trip with professors from Mosul University and delegates from the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education, officials met with Turkish universities in Istanbul in a bid to improve the higher education system in Iraq. Together, the teams bridged the gap between Iraqi and Turkish universities in an effort to properly introduce the Bologna Process

This process is an important part of SPARK’s Jobs and Perspectives programme, financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provides job opportunities for refugees and host communities, tackling the issue of unemployment in federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The Bologna Process is an intergovernmental higher education reform process. Higher education systems are important for the development of all sectors of a country’s economy. In Iraq, it is essential to raise the standards of education and better match academia to the needs of the labour market.

By developing and reforming the higher education system in Iraq and helping students receive internationally recognised diplomas, the chances of obtaining meaningful, sustained employment are higher.

Therefore, the study trip was a useful way for stakeholders invested in Iraq’s higher education to learn more about the way the Bologna Process unfolds by observing Turkish universities’ practices and policies. 


Experts from SPARK also organised a series of workshops for the participating Mosul University staff, which included many themes and topics. The group from the Ministry of Higher Education participated in a similar set of workshops, during which the Bologna process was discussed further. As professor Armağan Erdoğan explained, “The Bologna process will help you speak with the world easily in terms of your degree.” Gender inclusion is another key component of the Jobs and Perspectives programme. SPARK experts provided a session on inclusion of women into higher education and discussed the issues they face. 

Visiting Bahcesehir and Sabanci Universities

Academic staff from the University of Mosul and delegates from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education, accompanied by higher education experts from SPARK, visited Bahcesehir University and Sabanci University. Attendees observed the Turkish universities’ student admission criteria, teaching methods and diversity policies. This was crucial for both visiting groups, as they could benefit from the university’s applied experience and personalise it for the universities in Iraq. 

Student admissions

Realising the importance of this, the Iraqi visitors utilised the questions and answers session to ask the university staff about many things. In return, the staff were eager to provide helpful answers and tips. For instance, in reply to the inquiry about how the university deals with international students, Hamdi Apalı from Bahcesehir University answered, “Before and after admission, sustainable assistance will be provided to help them with any issue they may face, also there will be activities and cultural events held for them to show their culture, represent their countries, and know more about other nationalities.”

International students

Arabic-speaking international students from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, welcomed the visiting delegation at Sabanci University. This was a great opportunity for the Iraqi educators to understand more about the student experience at these universities, which sheds a different light on the Bologna Process. The students then accompanied the Mosul university tutors and Ministry officials on a campus tour, showing them their classes while discussing their student life in Türkiye. 

Delegates from the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education participating in a workshop © 2022, SPARK
Professors from Mosul university participating in a workshop © 2022, SPARK

The conclusion of this trip came with tangible benefits as the visiting professors and ministry officials gained an inner look at the workings of Turkish universities, where the Bologna process is effectively implemented. 

Professor Dr. Salah Alhashim, President of the Supervision and Scientific Evaluation Agency from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq said: “The results [of the workshops] are very practical and I believe that we are on the right way in order to implement and apply for the Bologna Process, which is the target that we, the Ministry of Higher Education, want to implement in our educational system and in our universities.”

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