Higher education in Iran

Higher education in Iran

Iran has a large network of private, public, and state affiliated universities offering degrees in higher education. State-run universities of Iran are under the direct supervision of [http://www.msrt.gov.ir/ Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology] (for non-medical universities) and [http://www.mohme.gov.ir/ Ministry of Health and Medical Education] (for medical schools).


Pre-Islamic era

The existence of pre-Islamic era universities such as the School of Nisibis, Sarouyeh, Reishahr, and The Academy of Gundishapur provide examples of precedence of academic institutions of science that date back to ancient times.

Islamic era

The traditions and heritage of these centers of higher learning were later carried on to renowned schools such as Iran's Nizamiyya, and Baghdad's House of Wisdom, during the Islamic era.


It was Abbas Mirza who first dispatched Iranian students to Europe for a western education. [Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin. "Eternal Iran". Palgrave Macmillan. 2005. ISBN 1-4039-6276-6 p.34]

The history of the establishment of "western style" academic universities in Iran (Persia) dates back to 1851 with the establishment of Darolfonoon – which was founded as a result of the efforts of the royal vizier "Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir", aimed at training and teaching Iranian experts in many fields of science and technology.

In 1855 "The Ministry of Science" was first established, and Ali Gholi Mirza I'tizad al-saltaneh (علیقلی میرزا اعتضاد السلطنه) was appointed Iran's first Minister of Science by Nasereddin Shah. ["آموزش و پرورش در ایران". Naser Takmil Homayoun. دفتر پژوهشهای فرهنگی. p.53]

By the 1890s Darolfonoon was competing with other prominent institutions of modern learning. The "Military College of Tehran" (Madraseh-ye Nezam), established in 1885 with a budget of 10,000-12,000 tomans, was its first rival; and in 1899 the "College of political sciences" (Madraseh-ye olum-e siyasi) was organized within the Foreign ministry. [Encyclopedia Iranica. Link: [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v6f6/v6f6a086.html] ]

The Ministry of Higher Education, which oversees the operation of all institutes of higher education in Iran, was established in 1967. However, it was back in 1928 that Iran's first university, as we know it today, was proposed by an Iranian physicist, Mahmoud Hessaby. The University of Tehran (or Tehran University) was designed by French architect Andre Godard, and built in 1934. Today, Tehran University is Iran's largest university with over 32,000 students.

In the medical field, it was Joseph Cochran who first founded a professional school in Iran in 1878, and who is often credited for founding Iran’s "first contemporary medical college" [ [http://www.ams.ac.ir/AIM/0252/0252127.htm Archives Of Iranian Medicine ] ] , as well as founding one of Iran's first modern hospitals ("Westminster Hospital") in Urmia. The medical faculty Cochran established at Urmia University was joined by several other Americans, namely Drs. Wright, Homlz, van Nourdon, and Miller. They were all buried in Urmia as their resting place after serving the area for many years.

In Tehran, Samuel M. Jordan, whom "Jordan Ave." in Tehran is named after, also was directly responsible for the expansion of the American College in Tehran. The school received a permanent charter from the Board of Regents of the State University of New York in 1932. [Lorentz, J. "Historical Dictionary of Iran". 1995. ISBN 0-8108-2994-0 ]

By the end of the first Pahlavi period, Tehran University was still the only modern university in the country. Hence, the Ministry of Science commenced the establishment of other universities in Isfahan, Tabriz, Ahvaz, and Shiraz, with special emphasis given to the medical and vetrinary sciences. ["آموزش و پرورش در ایران" (Education in Iran). Naser Takmil Homayoun. دفتر پژوهشهای فرهنگی (Center for Cultural Research Publications). p.98] Dr. Charles Oberling was highly instrumental in this regard. ["پروفسور ابرلن و نقش او در آموزش پزشکی نوین ایران" (Dr. Charles Oberling and his role in Iran's modern medical education). شمس شریعت تربقان. TUMS Publications. 2007.]

The Shah soon initiated projects to build Iranian universities modeled after American schools. Thus "Pahlavi University" (Shiraz University today), Sharif University of Technology, and Isfahan University of Technology, three of Iran's top academic universities were all directly modeled on American institutions such as the University of Illinois at Chicago, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. [http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/intrntnl/country/mideast.html Trends by Region: MIDDLE EAST and Penn's Global Engagement, University of Pennsylvania Archives ] ] ["Exporting MIT". Stuart W. Leslie and Robert Kargon. "Osiris", volume 21 (2006), pages 110–130 Link: [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?doi=:10.1086/507138] ] The Shah in return was generous in awarding American universities with financial gifts. For example, the University of Southern California received a gift from the Shah in the form of an endowed chair of petroleum engineering, and a million dollar donation was given to the George Washington University to create an Iranian Studies program.

The 1979 revolution put an end to the massive US-Iran academic relations. In 1980, a major overhaul in the academia and higher education system of Iran initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini led to what is referred to in Iran as "Iran's Cultural Revolution".

In 1986, the "Ministry of Higher Education" handed over supervision and overseeing of education in the medical sciences in Iran to the "Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education". This was to optimize use of the medical resources in the country, and to promote health, treatment, teaching, and research more efficiently in the field.

After the Iran–Iraq War, some new universities were founded and doctoral programs were developed in the previous universities. The number of university students is now more than six times as many as in 1979 (when Shah was overthrown), so that critics debate whether the national entrance exam is useful anymore or not.

Exclusion of Students

Students of minority religions have been barred from entering tertiary education institutions in Iran particularly those of the Baha'i Faith [ [http://news.bahai.org/story/601 New tactic obstructs Baha'i enrollments in Iranian universities ] ] . Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 Baha'i students have been excluded from universities regardless of their national university examination results on basis of their religion.

Academic system of Iranian universities

In 2008, Iran had over 3.5 million students enrolled in universities. [http://www.irphe.ir/fa/statistics/Statictics%20Forms/w-br.bruoshoor83-84.pdf] Some 1.7 million in various programs in Islamic Azad university and the remainder in State universities. In addition the new enrolement numbers for the academic year 2004 were 290 thousand in Azad universities, and 250 thousand in State universities. Iran currently has 54 state operated universities, and 42 state medical schools. These are primarily the top choice for students in national entrance exams, and have the largest and most prestigious programs. There are 289 major private universities operating as well. [ [http://www.msrt.ir/htm/Ministry/History.htm] ] In addition there is over 40,000 students engaged in Masters programs and 20,000 students in PHD programsIn all these schools, except for private universities such as the Islamic Azad University system, tuition and room and board, is mostly paid for by the government. The universities themselves largely operate on state budgets. There are also institutes like Payame Noor University that offer degrees remotely or online.

Some schools offer degrees in conjunction with European Universities. The International University of Chabahar for example offers programs under the guidance of London School of Economics and Political Science Goldsmiths University of London, and Royal Holloway. [ [http://www.iuc.ac.ir/aboutus-aboutus-fa.html دانشگاه بین المللی چابهار ] ] Other schools such as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences in Zanjan, have close collaboration with The International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy for workshops, seminars, and summer schools. The Iranian government also offers intensely competitive but fully paid scholarships for successful applicants to pursue PhD level studies in Great Britain.

Iran allocates around 0.4% of its GDP to R&D, which ranks it "far behind industrialized societies". [http://www.ams.ac.ir/AIM/0141/malekzadeh0141.html Medical Science and Research in Iran ] ]


University of Tehran, Sharif University of Technology, Iran University of Science and Technology, Amirkabir University of Technology, (Tehran Polytechnic), K.N.Toosi University of Technology, Shahid Beheshti University, Shiraz University, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Isfahan University of Technology, University of Isfahan, and Tabriz University are generally cited as the most prestigious schools of Iran frequently.

Almost none of these universities however are mentioned (or perhaps not evaluated) in the 2007 Academic Ranking of World Universities [http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm (link)] , nor in the The Times Higher Education Supplement. [http://images.thetimes.co.uk/TGD/picture/0,,157854,00.jpg] Sharif University of Technology at number 529 and University of Tehran at number 539 are the only Iranian universities that appear in the THES world ranking for 2007. [ [http://www.sharif.ir/4all/archive/en-showarch.jsp?arch=news&date=2007/11/29&time=0500 Sharif ranks 529 in the world ranking ] ] [http://ar.c-a-k.cz/2007%20QS%20Top%20500.pdf] [ [http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-1037148&Lang=P ISNA - 11-20-2007 - 86/8/29 - سرويس: / آموزشي / شماره خبر: 1037148 ] ]

Iranian authorities however ignore such rankings, and claim that, according to Chancellor of Tehran University, "Iran is third in Science and Technology in Asia after Japan and Turkey". [ [http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8504120028 Fars News Agency : ايران رتبه سوم علمي را در آسيا دارد ] ]

Critics further claim that for the case of Iran, rankings such as SJT and THES fail to provide an accurate image when assessing Iran's institutions of higher education, since graduates from these universities routinely are well prepared and end up matriculating into the competitive elite graduate schools of Europe and the United States in comparatively large numbers.

Ranking by number of publications

In terms of the number of papers published, the 2005 ranking of medical and non-medical universities of Iran is as follows [See report "بررسي نقش و جايگاه دانشگاه و صنعت در توسعه ي علمي، صنعتي و اقتصادي": [http://iritn.net/?action=show&type=news&id=11996] ] [http://www.ipm.ac.ir/IPM/homepage/WorldNews/11.pdf] :

#Sharif University of Technology (former Aryamehr University of Technology)
#University of Tehran
#K.N. Toosi University of Technology
#Shiraz University(former Pahlavi University)
#Tarbiat Modarres University
#Tehran University of Medical Sciences
#Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic)
#Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

with the most number of papers published in the following fields by order ["ibid."] :

In one study in the medical fields, Tehran University of Medical Sciences ranked first in Iran in terms of the number of ISI and Medline publications, followed by Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, with Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences following next.

Ranking of Medical Schools

In the medical field, the list of the most top ranked universities is: [For detailed rankings see: http://www.pezeshk.us/?p=2869]

#Tehran University of Medical Sciences
#Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences(Former National University)
#Iran University of Medical Sciences
#Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
#Mashad University of Medical Sciences
#Shiraz University of Medical Sciences

Ranking of Dental Schools

According to the 2007 rankings [ [http://www.pezeshk.us/?p=2872 Pezeshk.us | رتبه بندي آموزشي دانشگاه ها و دانشكده هاي علوم پزشكي ايران (3- دانشکده های دندانپزشکی) ] ] the top 5 rated schools in the dental field in Iran are:
#Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences
#Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Mashad University of Medical Sciences
#Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
#Kerman University of Medical Sciences and Yazd University of Medical Sciences and Hamedan University of Medical Sciences
#Ahvaz University of Medical Sciences and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and Babol University of Medical Sciences

Ranking of Pharmacy Schools

According to the 2007 rankings [ [http://www.pezeshk.us/?p=2871 Pezeshk.us | رتبه بندي آموزشي دانشگاه ها و دانشكده هاي علوم پزشكي ايران (2-دانشكده هاي داروسازي ) ] ] the top 3 rated schools in the pharmaceutical field in Iran are:
#Tehran University of Medical Sciences
#Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
#Tabriz University of Medical Sciences

Ranking by Webometrics

The latest webometrics data reveal Iran's top school Tehran University to be ranked second in the Middle East [ [http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=meast World Universities' ranking on the Web: Top Middle East ] ] but ranked at number 1083 worldwide. [ [http://www.webometrics.info/rank_by_country.asp?country=ir Catalogue of World Universities: Universities of Iran (Islamic Republic of) ] ] The list of top 5 Iranian universities by webometric counts are:

#University of Tehran
#Sharif University
#Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
#Shiraz University
#Iran University of Science and Technology

List of Iranian universities

Iran's Brain Drain problemFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, searchIran tops the world countries in the brain drain phenomenon. [1] The CIA estimates that 89.4% of Iran's population aged 15 and over can read and write. A significant majority of this population is at or approaching collegiate levels. Of this population, nearly 150,000 are estimated to exit Iran every year. [1]

Brain drain in Iran however is nothing new. Soon after the Islamic revolution of Iran, Iran's Higher Education system was shut down for over a year, and was completely overhauled. On Oct 31 of 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini commented on the reported trend of brain drain in Iran as follows:

"They say there is a brain drain. Let these decayed brains flee. Do not mourn them, let them pursue their own definitions of being. Is every brain with - what you call - science in it honorable? Shall we sit and mourn the brains that escaped? Shall we worry about these brains fleeing to the US and the UK? Let these brains flee and be replaced by more appropriate brains. Now that they (the Islamic Republic) are filtering, you are sitting worried why they are executing [people] ? Why are you discussing these rotten brains of [these] lost people? Why are you questioning Islam? Are they fleeing? To hell with them. Let them flee. They were not scientific brains. All the better. Don't be concerned. They should escape. [Iran] is not a place for them to live any more. These fleeing brains are of no use to us. Let them flee. If you know that this is no place for you, you should flee too." [2] The trend continued during the Iran–Iraq War, and after a post-war relative calm, picked up once again during the unprecedented incursion of the clerical establishment in Iranian universities, the last firm bastion of Iran's reformists. In November 2005 a cleric became chancellor of the University of Tehran, replacing Dr. Faraji-dana. Hojjatol Eslam Abbasali Amid Zanjani (عباسعلی عميد زنجانی) holds no academic degree, and is known for his strong ties to Ayatollah Khomeini. This is the first time ever that Iran's clerical establishment replaces the traditional academia to head a major academic institution. He has however written several books and has served on the faculty of the College of Law as an expert on Islamic Jurisprudence. [3]

Such trends are thought to be accelerating what many see as Iran's largest exodus of talented faculty, students, and researches to western Europe, Canada, and the United States. The lengthy list of Iranian chairs and directors of academia in these countries is arguably a sound index of this reality. Iran's Brain Drain has become a focus of the media both domestically and internationally. [4] Some blame an impoverished job market (which in turn is blamed by many on western imposed Economic sanctions), while others blame a notorious tightening social system. As a symptom of this, in 2006, Iran's president promised to eradicate all universities from what he called "the liberal and secular influence". [5]

A report by The Washington Prism in Jan 2006 claims that the International Monetary Fund considers Iran ranked highest in Brain Drain among developing countries, with an estimated 150,000 people exiting Iran per year. [6] IRNA reports the figure to be 200,000. [7]

And yet in spite of this situation and Iran's technological and industrial isolation due to political conditions in the past 25 years, Iran continues to maintain high levels of education and research in its major universities. Iranian students continue to win technical tournaments in Robotics, Computer Science, and other fields of engineering and science every year (example), and Iranians continue to increase the number of their publications in technical journals despite their highly limited facilities and resources.

To gain admission into universities, Iranian applicants must take a national entrance exam given once a year. Roughly two million applicants take part each year, but only the top 100,000 (or the top 5%) are admitted. To gain entry into the top caliber of schools, a score rank of under 5,000 is usually required. To gain entry into a medical school in Tehran, a score rank of under 100 is desired.

The high level of competition creates a tense atmosphere for many prospective students. Many of the better students however eventually end up migrating to western Europe and North America due to Iran's inability to absorb this highly talented potential workforce into its current job market after graduation. The majority of the Iran's best faculty and skilled specialists also live outside Iran for the same reasons. Other sources also verify that Iran has been topping for some time now. According to the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, there are approximately 50,000 Iranian students currently studying abroad.

In recent years several measures have been taken to slow down the brain drain phenomenon by providing work and research facilities for academics and geniuses. To support and preserve researchers and geniuses inside Iran, several organizations have been founded. In on Oct. 7th, 2003, the Supreme Leader of Iran ordered the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution to prepare the grounds for backing production of scientific software, and also to institutionalize scientific space of the country.

Thereby, by proposition of the Council of Scientific Researches of Iran, the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution ratified the charter for Iran National Science Foundation, on 18 Feb 2003. This foundation was established with the purpose of supplying researchers' welfare, organizing generation of science and technology, preparing executive grounds in the country for directing research and technological proceeds towards people, and permanent development of the country.

Another institution founded later to deal with the welfare of Iranian geniuses is Iran National Geniuses.

Prominent libraries in Iran

Large libraries existed in Iran both before and after the advent of Islam and throughout many periods in Iran's history. One can mention the libraries at Gondeshapur, School of Nisibis, and Sarouyeh during the pre-Islamic era of Iran.

During the Middle Ages, many schools of Nizamiyya harbored large collections of manuscripts and treatises. In Maragheh, Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī built a library that reportedly contained some 40,000 volumes which was well financed [S. H. Nasr, Oliver Leaman. History of Islamic Philosophy. VolI. ISBN 0415259347. 1993. p.542] . And the royal library of the Samanid court in which Avicenna was granted special access to, is yet another fine example. ["A History of Medicine". Ralph H. Major. Vol 1. Charles C. Thomas Publishers. 1954. p.242]

The first prototype of a modern national library in Iran was the Library of Dar al-Funun College established in 1851. In 1899 another library called the Nation's Library was inaugurated in Tehran. Finally, the National Library of Iran was inaugurated in 1937.

Iran's major national libraries today are:
*National Library of Iran, Tehran
*Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi, Mashad
*Tabriz National Library, Tabriz
*Malek National Library, Tehran
* [http://www.marashilibrary.com/ Ayatollah Marashi Najafi Library] , Qom
* [http://www.majlislib.com/ Iran's Library of The Parliament]
* [http://www.srlst.com/ Shiraz Regional Library of Science and Technology] , Shiraz


ee also

* Academy of Gundishapur
* School of Nisibis
* Nizamiyyah
* Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy
* List of universities in Iran
** List of Universities in Tehran Province
***List of colleges and universities in Tehran
* Darolfonoon
* List of Iranian scientists
* Modern Iranian scientists and engineers
* List of Iranian Research Centers
* Persian culture
* Science and technology in Iran
* Intellectual Movements in Iran
* Iranology
* Student cores
* Education in Iran
* Sanctions against Iranian scientists
* Iranian Parliament's Plan for University Entrance' Sexual Quota
* The Physical Society of Iran
* Iran's Brain Drain problem
* Persecution of Bahá'ís

Further reading

External links


* [http://www.msrt.ir/ Iran's Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology] (in Persian)
* [http://www.hbi.ir/ Ministry of Health and Medical Education - Research Branch]
* [http://www.ias.ac.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Sciences]
* [http://www.dialoguecentre.org/ Islamic Republic of Iran International Center for Diologue Among Civilizations]
* [http://www.tehranedu.com/ Tehran Education Organization (Amuzesh Parvaresh)]
* [http://www.persianacademy.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Persian Language and Literature]
* [http://www.ams.ac.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Medical Sciences]
* [http://www.iranmiras.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Cultural Heritage Organization]
* [http://www.irandoc.ac.ir/english/ Iran Scientific Information and Documentation Center]
* [http://www.tco.ac.ir/ Iran's Presidential Office of Scientific and Industrial Studies]
* [http://www.nano.ir/ Iranian Nano-Technology Initiative]


* [http://www.iranian.com/Diaspora/2004/January/USA/index.html Iranian Diaspora: "Smart Bunch"]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1740409,00.html The Guardian: Iranian hawk swoops on universities to crush dissent]
* [http://www.biotechworkshop.com One example of electronic education (e-learning) in Iran: Biotechnology e-workshops]
* [http://www.austrade.gov.au/australia/layout/0,,0_S2-1_CLNTXID0019-2_-3_PWB110752960-4_-5_-6_-7_,00.html Education and training in Iran]

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