Class of 2005 fails to duck the draft

July 28, 2006

Students caught up in the closure of a private university in Azerbaijan who expected to be found places at state universities have accused the Ministry of Education of breaking its word and instead allowing them to be drafted into the armed forces.

In May 2005, the Independent Azerbaijan University was named by the Azerbaijan Government's special commission as one of 17 higher education institutions that did not reach required academic standards.

The commission warned the 17 not to enrol new students in autumn 2005, a prohibition that the IAU and others ignored.

In April, Misir Mardanov, the Education Minister, said IAU students would not receive their degrees because the university was working illegally. In June, several dozen students started a hunger strike in protest.

A ministry spokesman promised that final-year students would receive their diplomas and that places in other universities would be found for those who had completed their second or third years. But it refused to extend this to students who enrolled after the closure order.

Earlier this month, two days after a hearing failed to resolve the issue, the students began to receive their call-up papers.

Mr Mardanov filed criminal charges of corruption and tax irregularities against the IAU.

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