The INsPIRE project, Innovative Governance Practices in the Higher Education Institutions in Iraq, aims to support, through the cooperation of European institutions, the rebuilding, modernization, and internationalization of the governance system of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Iraq with a specific focus on planning and programming systems.

The first step of the project was therefore to conduct an up-to-date needs analysis of the Iraqi Higher Education governance system. UNIMED, as the Leader of the first Work Package of the project, was in charge of the research, with the ultimate scope of identifying the current situation of the universities involved in the project and enabling the identification of specific needs to address in the subsequent capacity building action.

All in all, the overarching goal of the study was to delineate both priorities and gaps in the governance practices of Iraqi Higher Education Institutions. A Report on the State of the Art of the Higher Education system and its governance in Iraq was the result of the research.

The study has been carried out starting from a desk research, consisting in reviewing relevant literature and collecting previous expertise in order to develop a baseline knowledge, and standardize the understanding of concepts and terminologies related to HE governance among the consortium institutions. Upon the desk research findings, the report has been informed by the data from a survey, several focus groups and the results of a self-assessment conducted through a governance diagnostic tool.

The Report sums up all the activities performed, and presents:

  • The Iraqi Higher Education System (historical background, key information on the sector, the national legal framework)
  • Key findings of the research process
  • Self-evaluation results
  • Stakeholders Mapping
  • Needs of the Iraqi Higher Education System

The report presents the current state of the art of governance arrangements in the country and defines a number of training needs for the improvement and modernization of Higher Education Institutions in Iraq.

A noteworthy lack on managerial aspects has emerged from the research. The university leadership needs to be trained to strenghten capacity in long-term and short-planning, in the use of management techniques and in putting in place a process of consultation with stakeholders which may generate a positive impact of the institutional performance; and empowered to take responsibility for action and drive institutional modernization within the national legislation framework.

Along with the developments promoted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the country, Quality Assurance is at the forefront of the national agenda. It would be extremely beneficial for Iraqi universities to build on the existing quality offices to strengthen the quality assurance mechanisms in place. Capacity building is needed to enhance staff skills, along with the dissemination of a quality culture in the university (ex-ante and ex-post).

Finally, from the analysis conducted, the social role of the universities is a process in need of further attention. Universities in Iraq have the potential of being the bridge between education and the job market, contributing to local developments. In particular, contamination between Higher Education Institutions, the private sector, companies and research centres has the potential to increase graduates’ employability and respond effectively to the socio-economic needs of the country.

To read the full report and to know better about the Higher Education sector in Iraq and their related needs and priorities, you can download the Report here.

The Report represents on the one side the first achievement of the project, on the other side the knowledge base upon which the subsequent activities are designed, from the capacity building action which has just started, to the outlining of the institutional actions plans and the governance reform process itself.

Results have been elaborated through a close collaboration between UNIMED, the WP1 co-leader the University of Baghdad, and all the Iraqi Partners of the project which have committed to the self-assessment, contributed to the analysis providing key information to the researchers, and supporting UNIMED in fully understanding the key features of the Iraqi HE governance system.

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