The American University of Kurdistan (AUK) has been successfully awarded a $2.55 million grant from the United States Department of State. The grant is effective as of the fourth quarter of 2022. The general goal of the United States Department of State Grant, named “Support to American-Style Higher Education in Iraq,” is self-evident from its title. Some specific avenues whereby AUK may accomplish this, financed by the aforementioned grant, are: sustaining and growing partnerships between Iraqi and American universities; fostering institutional and program-level American accreditation; supporting students at all levels, especially in the way of empowering women; and promoting journalism education and freedom of expression among students of AUK and in the Duhok community. This particular grant is the third such one provided to the American University of Kurdistan.
The grant also offers 44 scholarships for newly enrolled students at AUK. These scholarships prioritize women, students from minority groups, and vulnerable populations.
The AUK expects candidate status for accreditation with the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) within two years. AUK’s improved alignment with best practices among American universities will advance its NECHE accreditation candidacy. To ensure this alignment, AUK will continue its partnerships with tertiary institutions in the United States on both the program level and the faculty level, promoting collaborative research and development. Through these partnerships, AUK is seeking program-level accreditation with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The aim is for AUK’s curricula and co-curricular infrastructures to achieve parity with those of their partner institutions in the United States, allowing unprecedented student mobility between AUK and any of its partners.
On the matter of increasing student support, AUK will be using the Department of State Grant to enhance existing student services and introduce some new offerings. AUK will overhaul its career services to help connect current students and recent graduates with work opportunities in their fields of choice. It will also commit to a conscious improvement of counseling and disability support services on campus, so as to support even more members of the student community experiencing challenges. AUK, moreover, is set to deliver a certificate program in women’s leadership, to empower females first on campus, next in Iraqi society as a whole.
The United States Department of State Grant will additionally go toward establishing a multimedia lab and radio station. These facilities will further communications education on campus. AUK, through relevant education programs, overall campus culture, and broadcasts from its station, is to be a hub for freedom of expression in the region of Duhok, Iraq.
The American University of Kurdistan’s mission is to adopt and adapt United States best practices and deliver an American-style liberal arts and professional education. This education was purposefully designed and is being painstakingly updated to produce graduates with global perspectives who are fully engaged in the region’s advancement. The United States Department of State Grant will be instrumental in the university’s adherence to its mission.