Hedi Wrya Mustafa and his classmates are studying Petroleum Engineering under the auspices of the Faculty of Science at Palacký University Olomouc for the fourth year. They spent the first two years studying in Erbil, where they were visited by Czech and foreign teachers. The have studied the second two years in Olomouc.
Although it’s a three-year Bachelor’s programme and Hedi is a top student, delays in obtaining visas have unfortunately forced him and his classmates to extend their studies.
Why did you choose the Faculty of Science?
Palacký University is a respected international university that performs well in world rankings. My choice was based on the fact that my country has huge gas and oil reserves, and the UP Faculty of Science has a well-designed curriculum in Petroleum Engineering, both for geoscientists and petroleum engineers. In the oil fields, the interaction between the geologist and the petroleum engineer is very important. Those who return to Kurdistan as Palacký University graduates will have an advantage in finding a job compared to students from local universities who may have studied this field.
Is it difficult to find a job in Kurdistan?
Not really. Where there is plenty of oil, finding work is not that difficult. But everyone has to undergo an interview with the employer and pass a probationary period.
How do you rate your studies in the Czech Republic?
Studying at Palacký University has so many benefits. I meet a lot of foreign students here, which is a positive sign for me. I liked the attitude of the teachers, they are very helpful. Thanks to them I have broadened my horizons. I think petroleum engineering is a very narrowly focused field, whereas geosciences and petroleum geology are more broadly oriented, although not directly focused on direct oil production. It gives me a broader perspective. What I also like here is that people who achieve a PhD or other degrees continue educating and working on themselves. In Kurdistan, it is common for students to achieve a PhD degree and that’s it, this is usually the end of their academic careers.
Did you have an idea about what the Czech Republic is like, and how did that idea differ from reality?
I expected Czech people to be educated, which has proven true. Before I arrived, I studied up on Palacký University Olomouc, as well as Charles University and Tomas Bata University. I appreciate the history of the universities here: the experience of several centuries and cultural heritage come nicely together.
What are your plans for the future?
My goal is to reach even higher education. I would like to return to Kurdistan and help raise the standards, especially in the field of oil and gas. I do not rule out a political career where I could use my experience and help set more appropriate criteria for better exploitation of mineral resources.
Do you have an idea of where the oil industry will go climatically?
Studying petroleum engineering is not only about learning how to mine and extract oil, but also how to manage it environmentally. Petroleum engineers learn, for example, how to trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ground. Moreover, oil is not only used as fuel in cars, but also as an irreplaceable raw material in almost every area of human activity. Knowledge of oil extraction also leads students to think about its environmental impacts. As it happens, many petroleum engineering students work on theses in their Master’s degree focusing on the environmental impacts of various types of oil containing different types of hydrogen sulphide or sulphur in general. Without knowing the basic principles of the issue, however, the path would be more complicated.
Have you had a chance to travel around the country?
I have had the opportunity to travel not only around Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, but also to many more beautiful European cities. I have visited Prague, Zurich, Stuttgart, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, and Krakow.
The UP Faculty of Science offers a total of 38 English degree programmes (13 of which are postgraduate and 2 undergraduate). The Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering was primarily launched as a pilot programme on the Palacký University campus in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In 2022, Petroleum Engineering was reaccredited as a standard three-year Bachelor’s programme at the UP Faculty of Science. There are currently over forty Kurdish students enrolled in the programme.