UW-Madison Looks at Partnership with Iraq’s Tikrit University [Wisconsin State Journal]

Deborah Ziff, February 12 2009, The Wisconsin State Journal

Iraqi students and faculty could begin studying and conducting research at UW-Madison if a burgeoning partnership with Tikrit University is formalized.

Sending UW-Madison students to study in Iraq is not in the immediate plans but could happen in the future if the country stabilizes, said Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies.

Officials from UW-Madison are speaking with U.S. Embassy authorities based in Iraq on Friday to discuss details of the possible relationship.

Iraqi universities are looking for opportunities for their students and faculty to come to the U.S. The higher education system in Iraq faces major challenges after years of warfare: Many teachers have been killed or left the country and some students fear getting attacked on the way to class.

“It’s an early stage, but we’re happy to be one of the pioneers to help universities in Iraq build up and serve as an engine of prosperity and well being,” Bousquet said.

Last month, Tikrit University President Maher Saleh Allawi contacted UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin to gauge her interest in an academic partnership.

At the same time, Brett Bruen, a UW-Madison graduate who works for the U.S. State Department, called UW-Madison’s Division of International Studies to discuss a potential collaboration.

Areas of common interest could be medicine, agriculture, journalism, law and engineering, Bousquet said.

Even if study abroad isn’t an immediate possibility, Bousquet said the two universities could work together by using technology like videoconferencing.

Established in 1987, Tikrit University is one of the largest higher education schools in Iraq with more than 12,000 students. It is about 100 miles north of Baghdad in an agricultural area on the Tigris River.