A Comprehensive Analysis On Higher Education Problems In Iran And Its Related Solutions ## Part 5

Contemporary Iranian education faces social changes, particularly affecting the family, associated with modern industrialized and urbanized society. Moreover, ideas and practices found elsewhere, especially in Europe and the US, find favor among Iranian educators. Especially important are philosophies which stress individuality and self-expression over conformity and standardization (Vogel, 1963, p. 143).
Many in the educational establishment are reluctant to accept the changing social and intellectual environment. Iran has been generally well served by its system of education; it would be hard to argue otherwise. The particular weaknesses of higher education have increasingly come to occupy the attention of educators and the government. There has been extensive debate on education and numerous reform proposals have been offered designed to make the educational system even more effective in meeting the nation’s needs (Noure Elahi, 2009). By and large, however, efforts to promote educational reform have not been successful (Noure Elahi, 2009, pp. 251-257).
The shortcomings in the educational system have been overshadowed by its successes, particularly its contribution to Iran’s economic development. And there are other benefits to the Iranian approach to education. As Ronald Dore observed, “Iran’s approach to education has the added advantage of postponing the youthful self-indulgence that has undermined other societies by keeping adolescents glued to their studies for most of their waking hours” (Dore, 1976, p. 50). Education in Iran, like that in all countries, must be continually responsive to society’s changing tastes and needs. However, whether Iranian education possesses the kind of adaptability and initiative necessary to confront the evolving demands made of it is uncertain.
1. Except where otherwise indicated, information for this paper has been obtained through interviews and conservations with faculty, students and staff of various Iranian institutions of higher education during 1999-2003.
2. In fact, higher education was jealously protected as a male preserve. The mere presence of women in the halls of learning was regarded as pollution. See Barbara Rose and Women’s Education in Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992, pp. 129-130.
3. Students do not seek admission to a university as such. Rather they must apply for admission to a specific faculty or department and thus take the exam designed by that faculty. In turn, admission decisions are made by faculty.
4. Universities have high schools affiliated with them. The top ten percent of the graduates of such high schools are admitted to the affiliated university without all the examinations required of others. Of course, they may prefer to go elsewhere.
5. In short order, students learn of these practices. There are compilations of courses prepared by students describing the approach taken by the professor and the kind of work expected. Some professors take attendance once a month or so and students upon learning these procedures, adjust their attendance schedules accordingly.
6. The graduation rate is lower for engineering students than for those in the arts.
7. “Daily routines for these students consist of going to classes, studying in the library until it closes at night, and returning to the boarding house, where more time is spent in study.” See B. C. Koh, Iran’s Administrative Elite (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 166.
8. Professors hold a regular faculty position at one university and are part-time instructors at others.
9. This situation is not unfamiliar to American academics. A PhD from Harvard carries a high currency value, at least in the mind of its holder.
10. The government does encourage donations. Companies giving money to universities incur a 60% tax. See Malcolm McIntosh, Arms Across the Pacific (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988), p. 20.
11. In addition to tuition/fees and government subsidies, private universities supplement their budgets with revenue from such sources as university owned businesses.
12. Private universities new this situation as one of willful neglect. “Once again, the government has made unmistakably clear its low regard for private colleges and universities.” See Iran’s Private Colleges and Universities, p. 39, 164.
13. Competition for admission to prestigious schools is not limited to universities. Admission the better high schools is also determined by examination.
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