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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
University of Babylon re-opens
Babylon is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world

The University of Babylon has begun to re-open after its buildings were looted at the end of the war in Iraq.

About 3,000 students, almost half the total number registered at the university, were reported to have returned on Sunday.

And a university spokesperson says that the university will seek to be "fully operational" by next week.

As a sign of the political changes - a large iron image of the former ruler, Saddam Hussein, was taken down from the university entrance.

Before the outbreak of war, the university's engineering department had been inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Academic institutions were among the sites in Iraq visited by United Nations inspectors, as they sought evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Historic identity

The university, carrying a name with so many ancient historical associations, is expecting to make changes to its teaching of Iraq's more immediate history.

United Nations weapons inspectors
United Nations weapons inspectors visited the university before the war

The university says that its "civic education" lessons will reflect the political changes following the end of the previous regime - and the influence of Baath party members who taught at the university will be removed.

Students returning to university were asked about their reaction to the events in their country - and these combined support for the removal of Saddam Hussein with calls for a swift end to the United States' presence in Iraq.

But students also said they expected the university to see a growth in political groups and debates between political organisations.

Academic and administrative staff at the university are now also being paid by newly-appointed authorities in Babylon - after salaries had stopped in the aftermath of the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime.

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