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Iraqi Private Colleges Cite Government Discrimination

University of Baghdad graduates seem to have an advantage over private college grads.
AL-NAJAF, Iraq -- Iraqi private colleges are complaining that their degrees are not being recognized and their graduates are discriminated against when they apply for government jobs, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

The private Islamic University in Al-Najaf hosted a conference of the Council of Private Institutes of Higher Learning to discuss the issue with government officials from Baghdad.

Islamic University Vice President Ammar al-Salami told RFI that private colleges are demanding that the law on private education inherited from the regime of Saddam Hussein be amended and that private schools be allowed to offer postgraduate degrees.

Abd al-Aal Salih al-Igaidi, the director of the private Hadba College in Mosul, told RFI that the Education Ministry branch in Mosul has posted a sign saying that graduates of private colleges need not apply for employment.

But Khamis al-Dulaimi, the director of Planning and Research at the Higher Education Ministry, told RFI at the conference that all graduates of private colleges that are recognized by the ministry are treated the same as graduates of state colleges.

Official statistics for the academic year 2006-2007 show that there are 17 private colleges recognized by the Higher Education Ministry, including five just in Al-Najaf, all having been established since the fall of Hussein's regime in 2003.