AUAF’s Response concerning the May 30, 2019 New York Times Article


The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) is unfortunately the subject of a May 30, 2019 New York Times article that gives an inaccurate and misleading picture of the University. The headline and main story line allege that there are “missing millions” at the University. Those allegations are false. AUAF has fully accounted for all grants from USAID, the US Department of State and the US Department of Defense in required monthly, quarterly, yearly and final reports and audits to those agencies.

Far from the troubled institution depicted in the NYT article, AUAF is widely considered the single most important and visible legacy of United States’ development spending in Afghanistan. AUAF’s over one thousand undergraduate and graduate alumni from every province in Afghanistan, along with more than 20,000 additional professional development program participants, are the backbone of a new generation of Afghan leaders moving their country forward towards a new era of responsible and accountable governance, business and civil society. The most recent entering class is over 50% women. AUAF is the number-one higher education choice for Afghans and the first university to be nationally accredited. AUAF graduates are studying at top institutions around the globe and returning to Afghanistan in influential positions in the public and private sectors. This has all been accomplished using only a fraction (less than one-half of one per cent) of the total development aid that the USG has spent on Afghanistan since 2001.

AUAF’s successes have come despite continuing security threats from the Taliban and others, threats made tragically real when the Taliban attacked AUAF twice in 2016 killing 15, wounding over 200, and kidnapping an American and an Australian professor -- who are still held hostage by the Taliban today. To counter these threats, AUAF must spend over 25% of its budget (over $7,000,000/year) on security. Without such funds, the University could not have reopened in the spring of 2017 and could not remain open today. The funds for this security come from the US taxpayers. AUAF and its students, faculty, and staff are eternally grateful for this support that serves as a daily reminder the education will prevail.

AUAF is committed to collaborative relationships with USAID, the US State Department, the US Embassy in Kabul and other donors. Afghan President Ghani has hailed AUAF as the hope of the country’s future. All funds raised are spent for the benefit of AUAF students. AUAF’s overhead costs are minimal, 1/3 to 1/2 of other US grantees. For a small investment, AUAF is producing graduates of whom Americans can be proud. Education at AUAF is an investment in peace. AUAF looks forward to continued partnership with all parts of the US Government. We welcome the robust support we have received from so many Americans, especially those who have served and sacrificed in Afghanistan.

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