Iran's national university entrance guide discriminates against a wide range of potential students

September 25, 2014

The university entrance guide for Iran's national university system, which must be followed by all students seeking to study at both public and private colleges and universities in Iran, is quite specific about what beliefs applicants must have before applying for a university place.

Specifically, according to page four of the 2014 version of the booklet, those seeking university entry must express "belief in Islam or in one of the religions specified in the Constitution."

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran quite specifically mentions only three other officially recognized religions in addition to Islam: Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.

Baha'is, despite the fact that their religion originated in Iran in the 1840s, are thus quite specifically excluded.

University application also requires potential students to indicate that they not acting with "enmity" towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. Examples of enmity include "taking up arms" against the government, involvement in anti-revolutionary groups (Muharib) or "propagating materialism and man-made religions."

These qualifications provide a second reason to exclude Baha'is, inasmuch as the Baha'i Faith is not recognized as a divinely-revealed religion in the voluminous anti-Baha'i hate propaganda disseminated by the government.

And, of course, the same section can be used to exclude a wide range of other applicants with other beliefs.

The university entrance guide states that applicants can expect to be excluded if they are unable to provide proof of their lack of "immoral behavior." They must also have the "physical ability" appropriate for their chosen field of study.

2 images
Page 4 of Iran’s national university entrance guide includes the following criteria: “Belief in Islam or in one of the religions specified in the Constitution,” which are limited to Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Applicants are also required to indicate that they are not acting with “enmity” towards the Islamic Republic of Iran and that they do not engage in “immoral behavior.” Taken all together, these stipulations can be used to exclude a wide range of applicants, including Baha’is.

Taken altogether, then, even a cursory reading of these conditions exposes their discriminatory intent. The first requirement-belief in Islam or in one of the religions explicitly named in the Constitution-is intended to exclude those with other beliefs from studying at Iran's universities.

The second condition, regarding enmity towards the Iranian system of government, gives the authorities wide latitude to block any applicant whom they wish to exclude.

The section on "immoral behavior," likewise, appears to allow the exercise of arbitrary judgment in determining what precisely may constitute "immoral behavior."

The final requisite, "having the physical ability appropriate to the chosen field or fields of study," may well be used as a pretext to prevent women and individuals with physical disabilities from enrolling in particular courses.