Koya University is Granted $50,000 IREX education program

A Locally Presented International non-profit English Language Center at Koya University; Spring International Language Center (SILC) at the University of Arkansas and Koya University in Koysinjaq, Kurdistan Region, Iraq are teaming up to create an English Language Center at Koya University designed to provide quality English language instruction for students, academics, and members of the community in the region. With the Ministry of Higher Education in the Kurdish region of Iraq raising the standards for English language proficiency for graduates and incoming students, the need for English language instruction is growing regionally.

Koya University leadership delegates visited the University of Arkansas and Spring International Language Center in May 2015 and signed several MOUs for wider partnerships and joint ventures as both universities sought new horizons for collaboration. Dr Dilan M. Rostam (VPS Feb 2012 - Feb2016) approached Dr. Leyah Bergman Lanier, the Executive Director of  SILC, with a draft project to establish an international non-profit English Language Center at Koya University. The project appealed as a good foundation for future collaboration for academic faculty training, research, and English language capacity building.

In coming years, Dr. Wali M. Hamad, President of Koya University, has a goal to expand the university by “opening special departments where all the subjects in all academic years will be studied in English according to world standards in an attempt to practically link Koya University with all the nations of the world.” Dr Rostam adds that central to that plan is an English language center that will serve the language learning needs of both current and future students as well as the academics at Koya so that they “will not be cut off from the science and knowledge of the world.” The new English language center will help support these university initiatives.

The first steps of the project are funded by an Iraqi Higher Education Partnership Program grant sponsored by the US Embassy in Baghdad and administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). In September, three members of the English teaching faculty from Koya University will travel to the University of Arkansas, where they will work with Spring International Language Center faculty to design curriculum for the center and receive training on administration, leadership skills, and English teaching methods. The team will then return to Koya to prepare for the opening of the language center in January 2017.  The non-profit center will provide English instruction for current and incoming students, members of the local community, and eventually to academics and staff at Koya University as the program expands. Dr. Salah I. Yahya, the director of QA at Koya University, says, “We have been involved from the initial stage to ensure the quality of the process and fair selection of the pioneering team of to UA.”

The center is the result of long-term collaboration between Koya University and Spring International Language Center. “We are excited to be part of this rewarding project,” says Dr. Rochelle Keogh, Teacher Training Coordinator at Spring International. “We are committed to long-term collaboration with Koya faculty members and look forward to working on projects with them in the future to foster English language capacity building in the region and positive cross-cultural experiences for students and faculty members at both institutions.”

After the initial work by faculty members from both institutions to design and launch the English Language Center, Spring International faculty members will provide ongoing training as needed for new faculty and staff at Koya as the center expands. The language center will eventually include a certified test administration site, allowing students to take standardized English proficiency tests such as Pearson’s “PTE academic” or the “International English Language Testing System” (IELTS).

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