Academia-Gov’t Interaction Demands Higher Status

Academia-Gov’t Interaction  Demands Higher StatusAcademia-Gov’t Interaction  Demands Higher Status

President Hassan Rouhani said the potential and expertise offered by universities are central components of solutions to the country's problems, chiding his conservative opponents whose prejudiced stance, he says, is alienating resourceful academics.

"How can it be possible for a government to resolve economic problems and effectively handle political affairs without consulting academia?" Rouhani asked rhetorically.

"Without drawing on their knowledge and expertise, resolution of problems would be impossible," he was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Addressing a gathering of university teachers and physicians at a fast-breaking feast of Iftar in Tehran on Tuesday, he stressed his government is determined on building closer bonds with the university.

"Today the university has a grave responsibility to help promote national development. A successful government is one that welcomes the university's help and advice in all domains."

Reiterating his policy of giving academia its rightful place in economic, social and political development, Rouhani said, "The government-university relationship needs to be taken to a higher level."

He criticized his political opponents in the conservative camp who insist on limits on the scientific and technology sectors, fearing that opening to the outside world might expose the state to the West's "corruptive influence".

"Some claim that interaction between our university teachers and those from other nations and sharing technology with them can pose a threat to the country, so any such relations should be stopped."  

"But we cannot expect scientific and economic development in a closed country…We cannot expect the university to trust us if we do not reciprocate," he noted.

Rouhani's critics have openly opposed his efforts to increase civil liberties and social freedoms after the historic nuclear deal with the world powers last year that granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back its nuclear program.


He said they (opponents) are delusional to think they can force their bias on university teachers and students by limiting their freedom under the excuse of safeguarding security.

"Ideology cannot be protected and promoted with coercion. It can only develop in a context where there is freedom of expression."

The president vowed a reasonable response to attempts aimed at depriving Iran of the benefits that must emanate from the nuclear agreement.

"We can and should take advantage of the opportunities that have arisen. However, some embark on smear campaigns in the mass media on a regular basis against the government."

Without naming his conservative rivals, he said, "They are furious about the new conditions and the openings created after the (nuclear) deal. We will certainly respond in due course and reveal the truth to the public."