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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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