Tehran campus leader resigns

July 23, 1999

The student unrest in Iran has led to the resignation of Tehran University leader Khahlili Araghi.

Although the protests were sparked by the closure of a reformist newspaper, they also reflect students' dissatisfaction with university conditions and job prospects. The economy is ailing and the public administration that deals with university admissions is known for its inefficiency.

Academic staff are particularly concerned about overcrowding during lectures. The situation in the medical faculties is extreme.

"There are twice as many students as there are seats in the lecture halls," said Iradj Fazel of the medical advisory body. "After the revolution, there was a doctor shortage and to compensate we created more and more medical faculties but we overdid it and now there are far too many medical students."

Like many graduates, medical students face a choice between unemployment or emigration.

Students are traditionally political and took a leading role in the Islamic revolution 20 years ago. Their recent protests continued even after President Khatami appealed for calm. Daryoush Ahawan, a political scientist, said: "There are many factions. Some are satisfied with reforms and some aren't. The protests are part of a transition to modernisation."

AliReza Nasiri, spokesperson for Tehran University, said: "President Khatami is one of the thinking men of Iran. Students like him and support his political and social activities. They hope he can provide a better future for them."

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