The pre 2003 era has left Kurdistan with a relatively weak and incomplete educational system. According to the Ministry of Planning, slightly more than 10% of citizens aged 10 and above have graduated from secondary school and only 2.4% hold a Higher Education degree. On average, Kurdish citizens spend 7.2 years in school. Almost 99% of students attended governmental schools as international private schools are only just beginning to appear in the Region. However, increasing Globalization in the Region is creating a fresh appetite towards both primary education and higher education. As a result, the KRG has made it a priority to ensure that the youth’s educational needs be entirely fulfilled by introducing a mix of both public and private academic institutions that meet high quality international standards, with the English language being taught in most schools.

According to a KRG publication, Kurdish citizens are knows to be keen on key sciences, specifically engineering and medicine. However, the KRG Ministry of Higher Education recognizes that there is a growing unsatisfied demand of labor within the Tourism and Industrial sectors in the Region. It is therefore encouraging its citizens to consider pursuing degrees in those previously mentioned fields. Consequently, there is a growing need for academic institutions offering degrees is Hospitality, Hotel Management, Petro-chemistry and Engineering, as well as Technician training courses.

While Kindergarten and Primary Education boast coverage rates well above 90%, Secondary Education and Higher Education enrolments are still relatively low but have witnessed significantly high growth over the past few years, resulting in an increasing demand for academic institutions offering both Secondary and Higher Education. Enrolment in Vocational Training courses is steadily decreasing as enrolment in Higher Education programs are gaining popularity.

The graph below illustrates the growing popularity of Secondary Education in the Region and the decreasing interest in Vocational Training.
    Erbil Duhok Suleimaniyah Total Students/ Teacher Ratio
Academic Year Students Teachers Students Teachers Students Teachers
Secondary Education 2008-2009 63,720 4,420 44,758 2,792 64,480 3,764 16
2009-2010 75,375 5,023 52,641 2,694 70,992 4,147 17
Vocational Training 2008-2009 1389 481 1286 177 4388 687 5
2009-2010 1399 497 1037 132 3701 603 5
Source: KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
  Public Private Students/ Teacher Ratio
Academic Year Students Teachers Universities Students Teachers Universities Public Private
2008-2009 66,072 3,772 7 5,702 396 12 14 14
2008-2009 76,446 4,010 7 8,735 418 12 19 21
Source: KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Although the majority of University students are currently enrolled in public institutions, the number of students registered at private Universities is growing rapidly, and has increased by 53% from 2008-2009 to 2009-2010. This increase is the result of students’ desire to pursue their degrees in internationally accredited academic institutions.

So far the International Choueifat School (ICS) as well as a renowned German-based school have set up shop in Kurdistan. Moreover, Kurdistan is now home to nineteen recognized higher education institutions. There are currently seven public Universities in the Kurdistan Region. The three largest Universities in the Region are the Salahaddin University in Erbil, the University of Sulaymaniah, and the University of Dohuk, offering bachelor degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral studies. English-language universities include the English Language University of Kurdistan-Hawler in Erbil. Internationally reputed private Universities include the American University of Iraq in Sulaymaniah and the SABIS University.