Improving Quality of Higher Education in Iran

Last year, 140 joint projects were signed in research and technology.
Last year, 140 joint projects were signed in research and technology.

Top universities in Iran say the number of scientific courses held jointly by Iranian universities with reputed global universities is increasing, and consequently the quality of higher education in the country has improved significantly.

Holding joint scientific courses is one of the main indicators of quality university education and a commonly used yardstick in international rankings, Khabaronline reported.  

During the 1990s, efforts were made to increase the number of joint courses in Iranian universities; however in the mid 2000s and after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power (2005-2013), the number of such courses fell sharply because of two reasons: firstly, the government didn’t make any effort to enhance the reputation of Iranian universities through strengthening scientific cooperation with foreign universities; secondly, during the government’s  8-year tenure, unfair western sanctions not only targeted the  economy but also had a negative effect on the quality of higher education. At the time the only universities that were interested in having scientific cooperation with Iran were Chinese and Russian.  

According to Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, during the past three years, the quality of higher education has improved vastly as top state-run universities have brought in global standards into their performance management regimes.

Comparison of various indicators in the years 2013 and 2015 suggests a significant improvement in quality of higher education system.

In 2013, only three science ministers and six heads of universities from abroad traveled to Iran to sign scientific cooperation MoUs with their Iranian counterparts while the figures increased to eight and 93, respectively in 2015.

  Joint Projects Increase

Three years ago, the number of joint projects between Iranian and foreign universities was only 17. Last year (ended March 19), 140 joint projects were signed in research and technology, many of which are currently underway.

In 2013, only 117 board members of Iranian universities took part in international conferences in order to present their articles and 760 took part in international workshops; in 2015, the figures increased to 498 and 1484, respectively.

In the same years, 14 board members of Iranian universities benefited from research opportunity abroad. The figure increased to 49 in 2015. The measure has helped increase the resources of faculty members.

Last year, delegations from universities of Germany, US, Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, and Austria visited Iran to expend bilateral scientific cooperation with local universities.

Additionally, among the 2,100 foreign students in Iran 1,100 received scholarships and the government met the educational costs of the remaining.

The University of Tehran, the country’s oldest modern university now plans to hold joint scientific courses with well known universities in France and the US.

“Besides implementation of students and faculty exchange programs to expand our scientific cooperation with other universities, we are focusing on launching joint courses with foreign universities,” said Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, professor of metallurgy and the current chancellor.

Pointing to the advantages of joint programs, he said the measure can increase “the diversity of study fields in our universities.”

Only the country’s top universities are granted permits to hold joint courses, according to Mojtaba Shariati Niasar, deputy minister of science, research and technology.

So far, Amirkabir, Tehran, Shahid Beheshti, Khajenasir Tousi, Isfahan and Tabriz universities have launched joint programs, he added.



While preparing for a short talk about the education system in my country of origin, I found statistics reporting a 28 percent increase in the number of PhD students in Iranian universities over a 3 year period (source here in Farsi language.) This is equivalent to 94,000 PhD students, nearly a 2 percent share of all enrolled students at college,undergrad and graduate levels

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