Imminent Changes in PhD Admissions

Imminent Changes  in PhD Admissions Imminent Changes  in PhD Admissions

For Iranian students, the one gateway to higher education is the nationwide university entrance exam which is popularly known as ‘Konkoor’. Now for the first time after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the National Standardized Testing Organization (NSTO) has announced that this method is about to change - at least at the graduate level.

Ebrahim Khodaee, the head of NSTO told Iran newspaper that following numerous complaints over the selection process conducted by the NSTO through standardized tests, they are serious about changing the procedures by delegating more authority to universities.  

‘’We intend to introduce two major reforms at the doctoral level: first and foremost by extending the validation of PhD exams so that candidates who have been accepted in one  particular year can postpone their registration for a further period of time and the second overhaul is to separate ‘testing’ from ‘admission’.’’

Khodaee explained that in the new model, the NSTO will only conduct the exams and announce the scores to the candidates and the universities while “the admission process will be left entirely to universities.”

The ministry of higher education had taken similar measures to make the admission process “more university-oriented,” but ‘’management changes’’ at the ministry had stalled those efforts in the past, he maintained. ‘’It was our demand from the start that the application process should be left to universities, but now we are determined to organize the admission process to make it more sensible and scientific.”



He hoped the plan would take off by 2017 but said “there will be an announcement at least one year prior to its implementation.” The plan needs to be approved by the ministry of science and higher education first.

The Majlis is also mulling over a plan to review procedures for admission at graduate levels which if approved, “will join hands with the NSTO to finalize a comprehensive framework for admission policies to graduate programs.”

Last year, around 240,000 candidates took part in the nationwide PhD entrance exam, 28,000 of whom were accepted at state and open (known as Azad) universities. Around 890,000 people have also registered for the master’s exam.

The number of admissions depends on the capacity to receive new students, as announced by the universities from time to time. Khadee hoped the same university-oriented procedure would also apply to admissions for the master’s program as well.