The first cohort of students in a dual degree program in civil engineering established between Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Baghdad are about to complete their studies in Melbourne and return to Iraq.
Established in 2012, and fully funded by the University of Baghdad, the program was recently formalised by Swinburne Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson and the President of the University of Baghdad Dr Alaa Abdulrasool alkashwan.
The initiative is designed to mitigate decades of underdevelopment in Iraq caused by wars and economic stagnation.
The Iraqi students complete their first year of study at the University of Baghdad. Around fifteen of the top students are selected to undertake the second and third years of the course at Swinburne. This is preceded by six months of intensive English tuition at Swinburne.
The students then return to Baghdad to complete their final year.
They receive two separate degrees – one from Baghdad and one from Swinburne.
“What it means is that Swinburne recognises and credits the two years of subjects at the University of Baghdad and the University of Baghdad accredits and recognises the two years of subjects at Swinburne,” program co-ordinator Professor Riadh Al-Mahaidi said.
“The current students involved in the program are doing very well. They have all been offered membership of the Golden Key Society – an honour awarded to the top 15 per cent of students in Australian universities.”
As part of the degree, the students receive three months training with top Australian companies involved in designing and constructing infrastructure such as bridges, building, dams, tunnels, water resources, and oil and gas facilities.
The funding from the University of Baghdad covers tuition fees, living expenses and health insurance.
The first cohort is expected to finish their Swinburne subjects in July 2015. The second cohort is enrolled in the second semester of studies, while the third is studying English at Swinburne College.
Upon attainment of their degrees, students are expected to contribute to the redevelopment of Iraq and its institutions.
Read about two of the students in the program:
Rusul Layth Abduljabbar and Aya Alothman