“We are suffering from a difficult financial situation which also has a psychological impact; especially for our students in south-eastern Erbil where two faculties that had been under ISIS control are based,” he said.
Dr. Dizeyi was speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat about how Kurdish students are dealing with the ongoing war in the region.
Studies have resumed in the two faculties after Peshmerga forces liberated them from ISIS fighters.
He confirmed that students are more politically active than usual, taking part in protests and sit-ins. “We have seen far more student protests and sit-ins this year than last year,” he said.
Dizeyi stressed that the university is doing everything in its power to counter extremist ideology, warning against this dangerous phenomenon.
“We have called on our professors to talk about the current situation more, in addition to academic matters. We also hold a lot of intellectual seminars about confronting extremist ideology. The university’s political science department held a workshop to discuss security in Kurdistan and the role of the university in this,” he said.
As for students joining ISIS, he said that there have only been two “confirmed cases” of Salahaddin University students joining the terrorist group.
“One was a graduate student who was also employed at the university who disappeared. We later received information from the security services that he was killed in Mosul. The other was the son of a professor who joined ISIS’s ranks,” he said.
Salahaddin University has also received thousands of students who have fled ISIS-held areas. “Around 15,000 students from Mosul, Anbar, Samaara and Tikrit are carrying out examinations at Salahaddin University this year due to the deterioration of security in their home governorates.”
He added that Salahaddin University has formally offered 1,000 places to Iraqi university students who have fled the violence, transferring their courses to the university.
“One of the biggest threats to the university is the potential presence of figures who try to ideologically convince the students on the wrong path, we do not allow any figure to create disturbances in the university, and we do not allow extremist ideology that is against our people, Kurdistan and Iraq to be present in the university,” the university president said.
In fact, Dizeyi confirmed that a number of students have put their studies on hold and volunteered to fight against ISIS, joining Peshmerga forces.
“We have students and staff who joined the Peshmerga forces. The staff were granted leave to join while the Ministry of Peshmerga issued special notices allowing students to postpone their academic studies or even take exams in the summer,” he added.