EghtesadOnline: Currently, some 55,000 foreign students are studying in Iranian universities while the number is expected to increase to 80,000 by the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22), deputy science minister for international affairs said.
“At present, more than 26,000 foreign students are studying in state and private universities directly supervised by the Ministry of Science, around 17,000 at Al-Mustafa Open University and the remaining 12,000 are studying at the Islamic Azad University,” Hussein Salar-Amoli also told ISNA.
The official added that the number of foreign students enrolled in domestic universities increased by 19% in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2018) compared to the year before, Financial Tribune reported.
Array of Nationalities, Majors
Persian literature, Islamic art, Persian art, medicine and studies in chemistry and physics are foreign students’ favored fields of study, according to Salar-Amoli.
Currently, students from 103 countries are studying in Iranian universities, most of whom hail from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Afghan students account for 60-70% of the total foreign students in Iran. Afghan students who have finished secondary education inside Iran need to pass Iran’s national university entrance exams. Iranian universities also grant scholarships to applicants who have finished high school in Afghanistan.
According to Salar-Amoli, Iran is set to host more university students from Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the next academic year, as the two countries have been enhancing bilateral ties in recent months.
“A fourth of Iraqi Kurdish students will receive scholarships from the University of Kurdestan (Iran), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Al-Zahra University, Amirkabir University of Technology, Payam-e Noor University and Iran University of Science and Technology,” he said.
Currently, 98 students from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region are studying at Iran’s University of Kurdestan by paying their own tuition.
Academic Cooperation With Europe Prioritized
Iran is planning to host more students from European countries, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy.
Salar-Amoli said these countries have also been prioritized for expansion of academic relations through holding joint courses, student and lecturer exchange programs and conducting joint research projects.
“At present, some 3,000 foreign students from 41 nationalities are studying at Iranian medical universities,” Hamid Akbari, the head of education services at the ministry, said.
Akbari believes that the high quality of medical education in Iran has helped the country attract foreign students.
As per a new measure taken by the Ministry of Health, foreign students who attend specialized medical training courses have the option to work in Iranian clinics under the expert supervision for a limited span of time.
“The medical certificate obtained from Iran is credible in many countries,” he added.
The ministry has also launched a promotional website–Educationiran.ir-to help applicants become familiar with the capacities of medical courses.
Iranian Science Minister Mansour Gholami recently called on the academia to accelerate the implementation of agreements signed between Iranian and foreign countries, noting that for now, short-term agreements (mostly lasting six months) should be prioritized by universities.
“The foreign universities have welcomed cooperation with Iranian universities, which is considered as an opportunity for signing research contracts and transferring technology to the country,” Gholami said in late April.
The minister also said Iranian universities should focus on attracting foreign students who pay their own tuitions while providing the platforms and mechanisms to achieve this goal.
In the past few years, academic delegations from different countries have visited Iran to work on joint scientific and research projects and exchange students and professors, especially after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the formal name of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015) paved the way for the expansion of scientific diplomacy.
Gholami said 417 joint research projects were completed last year, adding that this figure shows the growing trend of international joint research plans.
The ministry is targeting the establishment of 16 Iranian university branches abroad by the fiscal year 2021-22.
There is no limitation on scientific and technological cooperation for Iranian universities, as all countries are scientifically affiliated to one another.