Five Arabist graduates from Durham University's Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies are in Iraq translating for the Ministry of Defence.
But the institute is to become a graduate school without a foreign-language component. It aims to play to its strengths in attracting overseas students. Paul Starkey, senior lecturer in Arabic, said Arabic language and cultural studies would move to the School of Modern Languages.
The institute will retain just four of the 17 staff listed on its website.
Nine UK universities offer Middle Eastern or African studies, according to The Times Good University Guide .