On Friday CNN reported that the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) Kabul might close if US government funding is cut, and AUAF President David Sedney provided the following statement to TOLOnews on Saturday:
“The US Government has provided significant funding to support AUAF since the University’s founding. We appreciate greatly that support and look forward to working with the US government on continued funding for AUAF’s operational and security needs.”
An appropriations bill passed by the US Congress last week made provision for funds that: "Shall be made available to continue support for institutions of higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan that are accessible to both women and men in a coeducational environment, including for the costs for operations and security for such institutions."
However, the US appropriations bill does not specifically earmark funds for any particular institution, including AUAF.
Quoting three sources, CNN on Friday reported that the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) is drawing up plans to shut down next year.
The university was established in 2006 and is the only one in Afghanistan that provides a Western-style education.
According to CNN, the university relies on the US Agency for International Development for more than 60% of its budget and could not operate without the agency’s financial backing.
The school has been unable to secure assurance from the agency that it will continue funding the school, the report said, and the current funding will last through May.
The university’s annual budget is about $28 million, the school’s president, David Sedney, said as quoted by CNN.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to the faculty, our students and our donors,” said a source familiar with the planning for the possible closure. “It is really important that we address what could be the worst-case scenario.”
“At a meeting with members of the AUAF Board of Trustees on December 9, 2019, USAID's leadership once again strongly encouraged the university to diversify its funding sources, as representatives from the Agency had done in past correspondence and previous meetings, both in Washington and in Kabul,” a USAID spokesperson told CNN.
“AUAF's Board, not USAID, has the fiduciary responsibility to make decisions regarding the future of the university, which is an independent entity.”
The report says that as the funding stands now, the year's courses will finish, but the university will have to activate its plan to shut down after graduation.
“In March, international staff will start looking for new jobs. If we are not able to offer contracts by April they will take other jobs,” quoted by CNN a source familiar with the university's planning for a possible shutdown, said.
The university came under a complex attack by the Taliban in 2016, which left 16 people dead and 50 more wounded.
Kevin King, an American, and Timothy Weeks, an Australian, who were both recently released in a prisoner swap preceding resumed peace talks, were professors at AUAF when they were kidnapped in 2016.