Minister for Universities welcomes talks to develop a Kurdistan scholarship programme

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts met with Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, Minister of Higher Education in Kurdistan, today to explore how UK universities can support the development of the Kurdistan scholarship programme.

Issued by UK Trade and Investment on 30 January 2012

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has allocated $100 million per year for new PhD and Masters Programmes over the next four years and they are keen to engage with more UK universities in order to deliver it.

Speaking at the ‘Bridging the Knowledge Gap’ conference in London today, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said;

“I am delighted that the Minister and his colleagues have chosen the UK to support their scholarship programme. It is a great reflection of how favourably our universities are viewed around the world.

“The UK is already experienced in exporting our excellent educational services to Kurdistan; in October 2011 Leicester University opened an English Language Centre in the University of Kurdistan-Haler and the British Council also has a base at the University of Salahaddin.

“These academic programmes that stretch across international borders offer huge benefits to all involved, and not just commercially. International engagement brings cultural benefits and the opportunities to share knowledge, research and expertise which will in turn boost our own economy.”

The UK is already the preferred destination for students from Iraqi Kurdistan wanting to study abroad. Between 70% and 80% of students awarded Kurdistan scholarships choose to study at UK universities compared with those who choose to study in France (10%) or the United States of America (7%). As the economy in Kurdistan continues to develop so does their education and skills sector creating valuable opportunities for UK education providers to deliver high quality, world class teaching.

The UK is able to meet all educational resource needs from pre-school to university and beyond. Our education and skills exports are worth over £14 billion annually to the UK economy making the sector a world leader in meeting the accelerating demand for education.

The new scholarship programmes will include specialist courses in areas such social sciences, agriculture, health, archaeology and petroleum studies.

Notes to editors

1. Kurdistan is the semi autonomous region of north eastern Iraq.

2. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000. For latest press releases, visit the online newsroom at You can also keep in touch with developments at UKTI through, and

3. UK Trade & Investment’s Education sector team supports commercial education and skills exports focused on supply side opportunities, which are often non-HE educational exports:

  • Educational technology

  • Educational teaching/learning resources

  • Educational publishing

  • Special educational needs

  • Professional business English language training

  • Vocational education and training (VET)

  • Corporate/executive training

  • Sustainable new school build