University of Tehran

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The first modern university in Iran.

In May 1934, the Majles (national assembly) passed a law to incorporate five existing public colleges as a new University of Tehran. The original faculties included law, literature, medicine, science, and technology (engineering). Reza Shah Pahlavi officially inaugurated the University of Tehran in February 1935 by laying the foundation stone for its campus in an area northwest of the then new administrative and commercial district. Subsequently, faculties of agriculture, fine arts, and theology were added, as well as a printing press and a central library.

In 1943, the university became independent of the ministry of education and a board of directors was organized. Elected by the faculty, the new governing body also elected the dean. This independence was undermined after 1953, when the election of the dean became a formality, since the new dean had to be approved by the shah. By the late 1960s, the shah was making appointments from among politicians instead of academics, further undermining the university's academic integrity. These efforts at political control, however, did not prevent the University of Tehran from becoming the nurturing ground for all the opposition movements against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's regime, including the opposition that eventually led to the Iranian Revolution (1979).

The 1979 revolution and the IranIraq War slowed the development of the university, but since 1989 it has continued to develop and expand, adding several new faculties and institutes. Despite the establishment of other universities in both Tehran and other Iranian cities, the University of Tehran has an unrivaled reputation in the country for academic excellence. During the early 2000s, the annual enrollment was about 30,000 students, over 60 percent of whom were female; the faculty exceeded 1,500. The administration of the university is still based on the pattern established during the previous regime.

see also iranian revolution (1979);iraniraq war (19801988); pahlavi, mohammad reza; pahlavi, reza.


Banani, Amin. "Educational Reforms." In The Modernization of Iran, 19211941. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961.

mansoureh ettehadieh
updated by eric hooglund

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University of Tehran

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University of Tehran