Unused ideas / zaniechane pomysły: Private University in Iraq/Kurdistan

I think it is time to give up on this idea, as cool, fascinating and challenging as it appeared at the time.
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In 2008 the first signs of this project appeared, with approaches made by Kurdish entrepreneurs, seeking an institution or team of academic managers capable of establishing and running a PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN KURDISTAN. In 2009, one team that I was part of got close to signing a complex deal, which fell through due to indecision by one key player on “our side”. Afterwards, the idea came up from three different angles (and three different countries and some interesting/talented/competent/powerful people), nearly always as a result of a chat on a different HE topic that got down to “what would be cool to do” or “how would you like to leave your mark in HE”.
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Knowing that Kurdistan is an oil-wealthy nation, the logic was that there must be students keen to gain a good, international education, paying for it lower-than-in-UK but still sensible tuition. With Iraq’s HE system underdeveloped by Saddam and the War, the current Iraqi universities have got issues with quality, and thus competition for “our offer” should be low. The strategy called for gaining international degrees for those programmes, taught (of course) in English, allowing students to work in Iraq for international companies or emigrate for Masters phase or to work abroad.
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I planned for a tuition of 2.5K Euro and made a predicted profit in year 2, while balancing the budget already in the first year, subject to some simple solutions.
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The main challenges related to Iraq and the perception of security even though Kurdistan is a nearly-independent region and thus is differently protected. Nonetheless, the location causes problems in terms of staff availability , international staff willingness to travel, increased costs for insurance and protection of school premises, as well as the challenge of convincing degree-awarding partners to find some staff willing to travel for required monitoring visits.
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A second issue was that of spooks and other weird/dangerous people who, hearing of Iraq immediately became interested in sinister ways – probably wanted to sell tanks to the regime or something similar. A few idiots immediately thought of getting into business with the local oil companies, as if the school was just a gateway to “normal business”, and visiting lecturers could:
a. prospect for oil between classes;
b. bring some back in their luggage;
while students could do their “research” out in the countryside, building oil wells as “academic projects”. As I said, idiot ideas from greedy people.
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I got as far as having the entire business plan, budgets, programmes, even the organisational setup for the security system (I even budgeted for three ex-special forces to stay in the school as frontline enforcers), enhanced CCTV and access-restriction systems, combat-zone insurance for expat staff and plans for organising school systems around our safety. Personally, I found an Italian tailor offering bulletproof shirts.
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Pity it did not work out, as Kurdistan is an area ripe with HE opportunities. Of course, it requires tener cojones to do business there.
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Any Kurdish businessmen out there? If you want a university and have the building for it, you know where to find me.

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