Iranian government officials met with academics from across the country to exchange ideas in the era of sanctions
Iranian government officials met with academics from across the country to exchange ideas in the era of sanctions
Hosted by Alzahra University, the chancellors of Iranian universities and research institutes convened on July, 8th to discuss and share thoughts on issues which concern the Iranian government and the universities in the sanction era. This symposium was held with a large number of university chancellors and with the presence of Iranian vice-president Dr. Es'hagh Jahangiri, the minister of science, research and technology, the minister of cooperatives, labour and social welfare, and the minister of industry, mine and trade. Some other participants included vice-chancellors of the universities in educational and research affairs, officials from the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, heads of the different specialized committees of the Iranian parliament, and owners of major businesses and industries.
Welcoming the guests to the symposium, the president of Alzahra Univesity, Dr. Mahnaz Molanazari, highlighted the significance of the connection between the universities and the industry in the sanction era. She maintained that this connection is a movement toward change and will definitely benefit the country. Dr. Molanazri added that the universities believe that they can offer practical solutions during the challenging era of sanctions. Referring to the time of the imposed war and the nuclear negotiations as two critical and challenging periods which the Iranian nation has passed victoriously, she stated that winning the current economic war against the country is also a responsibility which the academics can well help fulfil. The president of Alzahra University enumerated the four concerns of the universities in the sanction era as providing practice-based education to empower the human resources, connecting the industry with the universities, protecting local industries, and attending to the possible psychological harms of the sanctions.
Addressing the participants as the next speaker, Dr. Mansour Gholami, the minister of science, research and technology, maintained that today, more than ever, the Iranian government believes in the role universities can play in tackling the crises and helping the country overcome the adversities. He further added that the convention of the university chancellors is a very good opportunity to realize the goals and ideas regarding what was formerly known as the relation between university and industry, and is recently recognized as the interaction between the society and university. Thanking the academics for their efforts in educational and research activities and in providing services to Iranian youth, Dr. Gholami elaborated on the outcomes of these academic efforts during the past 40 years. He asserted that the current high position of the Islamic republic of Iran in science and technology, which is no doubt improvable, among the world countries is for the valuable attempts made by the Iranian universities. He hoped that in the next 10 years Iran, with planning and determination, will be among the 10 top countries of the world in producing knowledge and publishing scholarly works.
Dr. Gholami praised the Iranian universities for admitting more postgraduate students and focusing more on research activities which he considered as major reasons for the recent international accomplishments like winning the top positions among the universities in the region and West Asia. Referring to the rapid increase in the number of science and technology parks and academic incubators during 2010s, the minister of science said that by establishing these centers and stepping toward developing ideas into products and turning knowledge into wealth through employing a large number of university graduates, we have made giant leaps toward development in the country. He added that in the present conditions, we the academics should monitor the economic challenges of the country and shoulder our own social responsibilities, step out to the field of practice, and make optimum use of the conditions. Guiding theses and dissertations toward solving the real-life issues of the country, making maximum use of the soft, hard and human resources of the universities against the economic terrorism imposed on the Iranian nation were some of the solutions raised by the minister to change the present challenges into opportunities of development. He reiterated that the government of the Islamic republic of Iran strongly believes in the power of academics in helping tackle the challenges.
Dr. Mansour Gholami added that this symposium which aims at exchanging thoughts and ideas between the government and the academia at the time of sanctions and attends to topics like domestic production and employment, and the relation between sanctions and sociocultural issues is different from previous meetings of university chancellors since it well demonstrates the seriousness of universities in focusing on the issues of the day. The minister of science, research and technology expressed hope that the current symposium paves the way for materializing the policies and plans for promoting the social role of the universities in the current era.
Dr. Jahangiri, Iranian vice-president, was the next to address the participants. In his talk, he maintained that universities and academics have won the public trust and Iranians believe in universities. Maintaining that the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran hinges on dialogue and negotiation while safeguarding the rights of the Iranian nation, Dr. Jahangiri emphasized that the European co-signatories of JCPOA should make use of Iran's 60-day deadline before Iran goes for a third stage of scaling back its commitments rather than wait and ask for more time when the deadline is missed. Referring to the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal and the imposition of sanctions against Iran, the vice-president stated that the Americans did not let the Iranian nation reap the benefits of JCPOA. He added that under the current circumstances, we have both chances and challenges, which have serious impacts on the performance of all organizations including universities. In such critical conditions, no group or community is more knowledgeable and capable than the community of academics to offer plans for resolving the current problems since academics not only are aware of the past chronic ailments of the country but also know about the potentials and limitations. Dr. Jahangiri called universities the critical wisdom of the society, and lively and dynamic foundations which are deeply connected to the society, approachable and open to criticism. He stated that university is not an obedient to politics to receive orders; it is rather a scientific body that investigates the issues thoughtfully and provides solutions. Dr. Jahangiri added that universities have formed specialized committees to investigate national issues and have come up with effective solutions which have been submitted to the government for further investigations. He concluded his speech with praising the ministry of science and the universities of the country for the continuous efforts they have made in and the deep understanding they have had of the current conditions of the country.
Dr. Reza Rahmani, the minister of industry, mine and trade who was the fourth speaker of the symposium highlighted the role of the academics in the development of domestic industry and production and their capabilities in solving the problems of local businesses. He added that the Made in Iran initiative which was proposed last year can well be propelled by universities to guide the country to the point of self-sufficiency and total economic independence from abroad.
Mohammad Shariatmadari, the minister of cooperatives, labour and social welfare was the next speaker to address the guests. He focused his speech on the necessity of matching the expertise of the university graduates with the lacks and needs of the provinces while emphasizing the importance of practical knowledge and field expertise of the graduates for the purpose of employment.
The second phase of the symposium was dedicated to two specialized panels to exchange ideas between the government officials and academics. The first panel focused on domestic production and employment. The panellists included Dr. Masoud Boroumand, deputy minister for research and technology; Dr. Seyyed Ahmad Motamedi, the chancellor of Amirkabir University; Dr. Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, the chancellor of the University of Tehran; Dr. Fereidoun Mahboudi from Cinnagen company and Dr. Abbas Aliabadi the chairman of MAPNA group. The major themes discussed in this panel included policies of domestic production and employment, the role of technological development in creating job opportunities, ways of attracting the private sector to investing in projects, ways of preparing infrastructures, technologies and raw materials for the industries, required means for supporting the research and development centers of industries, ways of promoting the quality of Iranian products, and the role of universities in supporting domestic production and employment.
Starting the panel as the first speaker, Dr. Boroumand elaborated upon the attempts made in the ministry of science, research and technology for removing the unnecessary permits in order to ease the cooperation between universities and the industry. Dr. Nili, the president of the University of Tehran, referred to the important role of production in national development and emphasized the significance of infrastructures for this purpose. Benefiting from the capabilities of the universities at the time of sanctions and attending to novelty, quality and up-to-date science were raised by Dr. Nili as valuable points to consider in this process. He also maintained that for any production, technology and fiscal policies should be prioritized while adding that universities are among the most successful organizations in initiating and maintaining international relations mostly for the efforts of the faculty members and students who are priceless and irreplaceable resources. In another part of his speech, Dr. Nili referred to start-ups and parks of research and technology as attractive investment hubs and continued that they have high potentials for their agility and small size which have made them easy to establish and speedy to flourish albeit fragile. Dr. Ahmad Motamedi, the chancellor of Amirkabir University, was the last panellist who emphasized the importance of strategic plans in economic development.
The second panel of this symposium was focused on the relationship between sanctions and sociocultural variables. Dr. Gholamreza Ghafari, deputy minister for sociocultural affairs, who was the chair of this second panel, reiterated the goal of the symposium which was providing a chance for the exchange of ideas between the government and the universities. Other members of this panel included Dr. Hosein Salimi, the chancellor of Allameh Tabatabaei University; Hojjat al-Eslam Dr. Mostafa Rostami, head of the office of the supreme leader in the universities; Dr. Mahnaz Molanazari, chancellor of Alzahra University; Dr. Fallah, undersecretary to the minister of intelligence and Dr. Olfat, deputy chief justice in cultural affairs. The major themes raised and discussed in this second panel included identification of weaknesses and critical issues within the domain of culture and society, the role of social and symbolic resources in tackling national challenges and boosting national unity, policies of the government in helping the socially and culturally susceptible groups and the role of the universities in promoting joy, jubilation and liveliness in the society. Dr. Hossein Salimi, another panellist, highlighted the necessity of shaping a widespread discourse which protects the significant position of the universities as symbols of intellectuality and wisdom in the society. Hojjat al-Eslam Rostami said that universities should get prepared and equipped for defeating the sanctions and that whenever the universities were given a chance to play a role, they were absolutely effective.
Dr. Molanazari, the last panellist, stated that we should look at universities as social investments and that universities are highly capable in promoting resilience among the youth. She added that universities conduct valuable research on psychological issues and if such works help students with their mental health, this would be more valuable as our students are mothers, fathers and managers of the future. The chancellor of Alzahra University also pointed out that the supreme leader in his "second phase of the revolution statement" has maintained that civilization-building is bound to science and research and that this is the responsibility of universities. Dr. Molanazari concluded that short-term and temporary plans do not work as this process requires infrastructures, patience and determination.