Faced with the lingering war and unrelenting sectarian violence, [Iraqi] students by the thousands have been leaving campuses to return home or enroll at universities in other countries. Enrollment fell by more than half at some colleges in the past year alone, education officials said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi professors continue to be targeted for assassination and intimidation. According to Iraq’s Higher Education Ministry, insurgent and militia groups have killed at least 280 academics since 2003, and 3,250 others have fled the country. The violence also has caused as many as 40 percent of Iraq’s professionals to flee the country since the U.S.-led invasion nearly four years ago, according to the Brookings Institution, an independent research group in Washington.
Iraq’s higher education system was once considered the most advanced in the Middle East. Tuition is free at 20 government-run public universities, such as Baghdad University, and 47 technical institutes. Private colleges charge between $114 and $305 annually. But the system has declined dramatically in the past 20 years.