In the National University Ranking (NUR) of Kurdistan Region in Iraq, Koya University was ranked as one of the among the five best universities of Kurdistan. Obtaining such a status has by no means been easy; it has been the result of sacrificing a lot of time and efforts, and the fruit of four successive years of continuous hard work for the sake of building an e-smart university and enhancing academic presence and visibility.
On Thursday, December 8th 2015 in a historic event in the presence of Mr.Qubad Talabani, The Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Dr. Yusuf Goran the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, a number of parliament members, and university presidents and vice presidents, for the first time the national ranking of Kurdistan Universities was released.
His Excellency Mr. Qubad Talabani, the Deputy Prime Minister of KRG stressed the importance of this process for Kurdistan Region and stated, ''The academic ranking of the universities based on international standards and using proper criteria is a step towards promoting the sector of higher education in the region; This is a common process in the advanced countries of the world." His Excellency further expressed the KRG's readiness to support the universities being one of the most important institutions in the region. He also congratulated the top universities one of which was Koya University.
During the ceremony, Dr. Yusif Goran, the Minster of Higher Education and Scientific Research said ''In order to carry out the ranking, at first we consulted some international organizations namely, Chenica Organization and Italian National Ranking, German National ranking and the German DAAD Organization. We kept in constant contact with them and they delightedly expressed their willingness to help us and were really very cooperative. The process was conducted by a special high-ranking committee who developed a mechanism for the ranking of the KRG universities which was based on international ranking standards, and at the same time considered the strategy of Ministry of Higher Education. Thus, the Ranking was based on 8 main criteria and 59 secondary ones. The main ones included (the academic level of the teaching staff, international activities, cultural activities , the relation of the university to the community, scientific researches, quality assurance, students satisfaction with the university, libraries and laboratories.''
Koya University is situated at Koya city near to Erbil city, the capital of KRG at a distance of 70 Kms. The foundation stone of Koya University was laid at the foot of Haibat Sultan Mountain by His Excellency Mr. Jalal Talabani in the spring of 2003. Koya University continues leading its scientific procession for the 12th year with open and perceptive vision and based on scientific thinking and continuous development with the aim of serving the Kurdish community and creating experienced specialized cadres. The leaders of Koya University continue performing their academic tasks with a strong sense of responsibility so that after 12 years of continuous work, today Koya University reaps the harvest of those efforts and stands in the forefront of the other universities of the region.
In November 2015, Dr. Dilan Majid Rostam, Vice president of Koya University for Scientific Affairs and Higher education presented four seminars on four successive days on e-smart university where Koya University's academic community participated. In these seminars, he concentrated on the concept and ideas behind the 4 years e-smart strategy for rasing the quality of the Koya University and the detailed steps of implementing the project and the role of Koya University staff in taking this strategy forward.
On the occasion of Koya University's ranking as one of the leading universities in the region, Dr. Dilan stated, "A strong electronic foundation has been laid for running Koya University's integrated all inclusive communication. We are leading the concept of e-Smart university in Kurdistan Region, and our experience in this field is unique. We have created the right tool for our everyone in our academic community to geting on the lader of academic self-promosion which lead to natural growth of academic quality; what remains is the maintaining and operation of the system by the teachers and students. Teachers can use the system as a means to enhance their academic presence or visibility and also to strengthen their academic relations with their students." Dr. Dilan also referred to the purpose of laying the foundation stone for such a strategy saying," Laying the foundation stone for such a strategy, for which a number of world personalities has worked and gained fame, has educational and teaching implications. Education and quality are two inseparable blends and at the present time, the purpose of education and teaching is not teaching students some basic numbers and facts, but the purpose is to create professional individuals capable of having roles in building their community with a mind of problem solving, in addition to the development of critical thinking."
Academic presence or visibility
The Vice President of Koya Univeristy for Scientific Affairs and Higher Education stresses the importance of the teachers' academic visibility as an important basis for the development of this e-system. In this respect, Dr. Dilan says '' The ranking that Koya university has obtained is the result of the efforts of all the teachers and the employees of Koya University; it is the outcome of the efforts of every single member of Koya University, but increased level of participation will lead to enhancing the position of the University and moving towards level A alongside the best universities in Kurdistan.'' To reach this level, Dr. Dilan referred to the most important criteria of ranking which, as he mentioned, include, "quality assurance, library, Laboratories, cultural activities, international activities and scientific researches with a large number of secondary criteria."
With regard to creating universities of excellence in the Region, Dr. Dilan says, "In order to create a university of excellence in Kurdistan Region, it is important that the university staff perform their duties willingly without being pressurized or supervised by the Directory of Quality Assurance. In relation to this, the Vice President of Koya University says, '' Academic visibility is the only and sufficient means to raise the standard of the universities and to create A level universities. Researchers can get marvelous results with the use of modern and new resources, and these results can help meet the academic and social needs of the community." He further adds, "It is important that University teachers know English language which is used as a means to raise the academic level in our today's world, and is given special consideration in the ranking of universities.”
With regard to electronizing work at Koya University, Dr. Dilan says, "We started the project of creating an electronic university inside Koya University and we took the project forward and were able to establish an electronic foundation in a way that the users of the system, wherever they may be, will be able to work on it. The system is ready for use; constant contact with the system makes it succeed and pushes it forward." Dr. Dilan also referred to the principles and the main components of the project saying, "We drew electronic academic circles for the main components of Koya University in terms of students, subjects, teachers, departments and faculties, all of which comprise Koya University with the ultimate aim of serving the final circle, which represents the community." "Ranking Koya University as one of the Kurdistan leading universities was the outcome of all these efforts," he stated.
Focusing further on this concept, Dr. Dilan reiterates, “Academic community and academic visibility are the key to academic quality of the universities, which in turn, guarantees the quality of the graduates. The future work market of Kurdistan will be in need of graduates who are able to acclimatize themselves to dynamic work markets."
The leaders of Koya University think that Koya University's ranking as one of the best universities in Kurdistan will make their load heavier, and more demanding in terms of making more prudent decisions. This is because, in addition to the responsibility of retaining the current position, they have to work hard to push the university forward to be one of the best universities in Kurdistan and take it to A position. In this respect, Dr. Dilan says, “With the participation of all and through academic visibility of the academic staff and employees we can achieve this aim; from now on, we will implement our work in accordance with this principle and consider it as a standard for our decisions."
Furthermore, Dr. Weli Mahmud Hamad, the President of Koya University, as an effective President stressed, " Koya University will maintain its current position as one of the leading universities in Kurdistan and endeavors to promote its position, but we have to remember that many obstacles are ahead of us." He further said, "Most of the criteria used in ranking universities need a lot of time to be achieved. We have started work to implement our new strategy. We want to establish closer contacts with our teachers and students; we will also try to identify our weak points and turn them into a strategy in order to improve them and at the sametime work on developing the positive points according to the university ranking-related standards of the Ministry of Higher Education."
Koya University leaders are under great pressure and are facing a challenging situation to promote the position of their University. They are ambitious to get a higher position. For this purpose, the members of the University Council are in constant consultation with each other; they are exchanging views in order to step towards greater achievements.
With regard to the academic life, the President of Koya University delivered a message to the teachers, stating, "We tell the teachers, you have devoted yourselves to work in the university. If, in the past, there was no consideration for the academic level of the teachers to distinguish academically active teachers from passive ones, now this will be part of the of the National Ranking standards and of Quality Assurance. Henceforth, the academic level of the teachers will be a main criterion of the rankings. Therefore, it is crucial for the teachers to secure and maintain a good position for themselves through academic visibility, which can be achieved via performing academic activities, updating their academic profiles and better interacting with their portfolios.”
Ending his speech, the President stated, "Let's perform our duties with a spirit of optimism in order to promote our academic position."
The Ranking of Universities
The academic ranking is a process of ranking the world universities to show their academic level and value. The rankings are prepared and presented continuously by different academic ranking centres, such as Shanghai Ranking shanghairanking.com,Times Higher Eduation timeshighereducation.com, Center for World University Rankings cwur.org.
Similarly, there are some world web pages which carry out electronic ranking for all the universities of the world, such as Webometrics webometrics.info. All these centres conduct the process based on transparent standards and use indicators that measure the overall academic level of the university such as, the academic level of students, the relation of the university to work markets, researches and inventions, the academic ability of the academic staff, the academic performance of the university at the regional, and global levels, etc. In the same way countries conduct ranking processes for their own universities to monitor their academic standard and value like the National Universities Ranking (NUR) conducted in the kurdistan Region as a historic achievement to enhance the process of academic education.