Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Launches New Crackdown On Universities

Science Minister Kamran Daneshjou
The Iranian government says it will restrict the number of students admitted to humanities programs at universities, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The announcement was made on August 25 by Abolfazl Hassani, the director of the government's Office of Development of Higher Education.

It follows criticism of humanities studies last year by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He called the humanities a field of study that "promotes skepticism and doubt in religious principles and beliefs," and that it was worrying that almost two-thirds of university students in Iran were seeking degrees in the humanities.

It also comes as, in the past three months, nearly 20 university deans have been sacked by Science Minister Kamran Daneshjou, most recently Yosef Sobouti of the Graduate University of Zanjan.

Daneshjou was in charge of the Interior Ministry's election headquarters in the contested presidential vote last year.

Saeed Peyvandi, a Paris-based expert on education, says that that the Science Ministry has started a coordinated, centralized policy to monitor and control universities, including students, professors, chancellors, and curriculums.

Peyvandi adds that as a result of such policies, "independence of universities" will make no sense in Iran anymore.

Daneshjou said in March that only academics who had "practical commitment" to the principle of "velayat-e faqih, or the rule of the supreme leader, could teach at universities.

U.S.-based sociologist Majid Mohammadi says that the new policy of the Iranian establishment reflects its totalitarian attitude, which has become even more conspicuous during the past year.

Mohammadi says that dismissing university professors, forcing them to retire or resign, and replacing them with those committed to the supreme leader shows that a cultural revolution is still continuing in the country.

Khamenei had previously called universities arenas of "soft war," described students as "young soldiers" and professors as "commanders" who should confront soft war.