Tag Archives: hassan rouhani

IRAN: Flirting with Change

October 17th, 2013

Students at Tehran University source: en.irangreevoice.com

Though the world is viewing the overtures made by Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, with cautious optimism, on Monday, October 14, 2014, he challenged the country’s hardline factions and called for the lifting of restrictions on academic freedoms and for granting Iranian scholars more opportunity to take part in international conferences. Speaking to students and professors at Tehran University, Mr. Rouhani said that his “administration will not tolerate factional pressures on universities,” and called on the importance of scholars from taking part in international conferences as “scientific diplomacy.”

“I urge all security apparatuses, including the intelligence ministry, to open the way for this diplomacy. Trust the universities,” said Rouhani.

In an earlier blog I wrote about how the government of Iran, under the former presidency of Ahmadinejad, had justified its decision to bar women from studying in 70 plus programs. Mr. Ahmadinejad and the hardliners in his government were concerned about the disparity between the increasing numbers of women versus men enrolling at universities. Mr. Rouhani’s predecessor’s government wasn’t only concerned about limiting women’s access to over 70 fields of study, but also barring scholars and professors from attending international conferences and engaging in research, and making it difficult for Iranian students to seek higher education outside the country.

Mr. Rouhani’s Monday call was broadcast on state television. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top policymaker, has endorsed Rouhani’s outreach to the U.S. However, this does not mean the hardliners are taking Mr. Rouhani’s calls for education freedom and his attempts to reach out to the U.S. lightly. In fact, they have vowed to organize a major anti-U.S. rally on November 4th to mark the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by militant students in 1980.

When Rouhani took office in August, he had called for lifting the restrictions on social media access and even urged police to be less vigilant toward women and the perceived violations of strict dress codes. I believe Iranian women had already taken matters into their own hands, even before Mr. Rouhani’s declaration. Street fashion in Iran, as seen in this series of photos, is alive and well and young women and some men are pushing the envelope expressing their individualism and unique sense of style even with dress code restrictions.

Perhaps change is underway in Iran and as far as academic freedom is concerned, the only way to gauge it is to see how students, professors and scholars are treated under Mr. Rouhani’s watch.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI


Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Politics

Iran: Elections and Academic Credentials Under Scrutiny

June 20, 2013

Iran Grunge Flag

As you must have heard by now, Iranians had an election last week and cast their votes in favor of Hassan Rouhani (or Rowhani), ending the eight- year term of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What has caught my attention is not the President-elect’s victory but the news surrounding his academic qualifications, which only a week ago had been brought under scrutiny.

It appears that in a campaign ad promoting Mr. Rouhani’s experience and credentials, the advert reported him as having earned a PhD in Law from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. When news of this said degree reached Scotland, the University checked its archives and found no record of his enrollment or having granted him the Doctorate. A spokesperson for Mr. Rouhani has since said that he had enrolled under a different last name, but the University of Glasgow was unable to verify its accuracy. His representatives submitted another amendment correcting the University’s name to Glasgow Caledonian University (formed after a merger in 1993 between Queen’s College and Glasgow Polytechnic) and also indicating that the newly-elected President had enrolled at the University under the name of Hassan Feridon.

On June 16, 2013, Glasgow Caledonian University confirmed that in 1995 it conferred upon a Hassan Feridon the degree of MPhil and the Doctor of Philosophy in 1999. Mr. Rouhani’s website indicates that he received the Master’s in Law and Ph.D. in Constitutional Law, however, dates of their awards were not listed at the time of investigation by Iran’s Election Watch. But the student Feridon’s dates of attendance appear to coincide with Mr. Rouhani’s tenure as President of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) in Tehran a position with responsibilities that would have made post-graduate study very difficult. In a recent article in The Telegraph, Meir Javendanfar an analyst with the Inter-Disciplinary Centre in Hezliya in Israel says the following about Mr. Rouhani’s university credentials: “He would need to have herculean multi-tasking skills to write a PhD thesis while heading the national security council.”

On Tuesday, June 18, 2013, The Herald reported that Glasgow Caledonian University confirmed Hassan Feridon aka Hassan Rouhani as a graduate of the institution and holder of the Doctorate in Law (Thesis: The Flexibility of Shariah [Islamic Law]) with reference to the Iranian experience).

Verification of the validity of academic degrees is not unique to Mr. Rouhani. The out-going President, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s academic degrees too were scrutinized in newspaper reports and even on the PBS newsmagazine Frontline. It seems that his attendance and graduation dates of when he received his engineering degree and Doctorate in Traffic Management or Transport Engineering from Iran University of Science and Technology don’t quite corroborate with historic timelines.

Given that I’m an international credential evaluator by profession, scrutinizing a person’s academic credentials is what I do by nature. I can’t help it. I see a diploma on the wall, and my brain quickly assesses the typeface, the name of the institution, the logo, dates, degree title, etc.

I don’t know about you, but an authoritative credential evaluation at the onset of presidential campaigns, or for that matter qualifying for any job, would have settled the confusion and alleviated doubts. But it is not too late; the two gentlemen need only submit their official transcripts for a comprehensive verification and evaluation.

Respectfully submitted,

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Filed under Credentials, Education, Politics