Monday, October 11, 2010

Khamanei Rules to Nationalize Free University of Iran- UPDATE

In a major blow to Ayatollah Rafsanjani’s attempt to maintain the status of Iran’s Islamic Free University as an endowed private institution, the country's supreme leader today ruled that the university, the country’s largest, is a public institution and should be managed by government’s Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution [Mashreq Website, 11 October]. Rafsanjani is the founding chairman of the university’s board of trustees and now has to relinquish his authority to President Ahmadinejad who chairs the Supreme Council.

The ruling supported Ahmadinejad’s argument that the Free University should be state-owned and managed like other institutions of higher learning in Iran. But Rafsanjani argued that the university was founded privately in the early years of the Islamic Republic and has been managed by its own board of trustees for nearly three decades, growing into the largest university in Iran and in the region, with campuses across Iran, UAE and Britain. Khamaeni’s ruling against Rafsanjani effectively nationalizes the Free University. The move is also seen as yet another indication of Khamenei’s siding with Ahmadinejad on important issues against his political opponents.

UPDATE: Immediately after Khamenei’s ruling on Azad University’s status, Rafsanjani’s website posted a historical note saying Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, had personally donated 1 million toumans to the university. It also quoted Rafsanjani of reporting to Imam Khomeni that there were forces that wanted to nationalize the university and Khomeini told him not to worry, to continue keeping the university private, and he (Khomeini) would take care of the opponents.

Uskowi: This issue has all the markings of a major power struggle centered on the fate of a university.


Mehdi said...

I have difficulty understanding your conclusion of Khamenei's ruling.
AFAIK the ruling has two parts:
1. Endowment is not legal nor religiously acceptable because you can not endow something you don't own.
2. Since Azad university is neither a private nor a government institution; paragraphs 5 and 10 of new statute ruled by Ahmadinejad in Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution should be reviewed and corrected.

So the ruling confirms Azad university is not a government institution.

Amir Taheri said...

My thoughts are also to wait and see how this ruling will be interperted.

Anonymous said...

at least the students are happy
they have to pay less enrollment-fee.

Nader Uskowi said...

It is always beneficial to wait and see how things develop, and we should do that in this case as well. But we also need to analyze the events as they unfold. This has all the markings of a naked grab for power.

For the conservatives, Azad University was getting too big a social institution not to come under the control of the government or the leader's house, and critical as well to bring it out of the control of Rafsanjani. I believe they would put it under the leaders beit (house) organization with Khamanei having direct control over it. This of course might prove costly to the conservatives, pushing Rafsanjani into the ranks of the opposition.

Mehdi said...

Azad university is not a social institution as one might think.
Basij is there, representative of vali-faqih is there, etc.
In addition it has the corruption that comes standard with Rafsanjani. Non-educational (bazari style) transactions, inefficiency, selling university degrees, free degrees for corrupt politicians.
What has irritated Ahmadinejad however, is using students for political pressure on government specially after election.
I have a family member in North Tehran branch, who said during exams last year, university staff came to the exam hall and shout, don't you have any honor (gheirat) leave the exam, stand up and go to streets...
BTW, despite their apparent huge income; they have difficulty paying my $5K for a research project that I have finished 5 month ago ;)