Founded by Iran’s Council on Higher Education Development in 1975 as an institute of Higher Education, the University of Birjand was raised to full university status in 1991 and is the largest research university in Eastern Iran.
Birjand is the capital of South Khorasan province. Located at the east end of Iran’s Central Desert, was on the Silk Road and has long traditions of spice cultivation, particularly saffron, and carpet-making. Known as both ‘City of Pines’ and ‘City of Culture’, it has significant cultural traditions and in the mid nineteenth century was among the cradles of modern public education in Iran through the famed Shokatiyeh School.
Those traditions are maintained in modern Birjand, which has been called a ‘City of Universities’, with six degree-awarding institutions. The university expanded via the creation of faculties of Agriculture in 1979 and Engineering in 1988. The first degree course offered was Electronics in 1989, and departments of Maths, Physics and Chemistry were started in 1991.
It retains the focus on science, but in 2017 Literature and Humanities was, in terms of student numbers, the largest of its 11 faculties, which also include Physical Education and Athletic Science and Art and Archaeology.
There are two campuses in Birjand, with Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at Amirabad in the west of the city and the remainder on the university’s main 1600 acre site at Shokotabad in the east. There are also four satellite campuses outside the city – Institutes of Agriculture at Sarayan and Sarbishe, of Engineering and Technology at Ferdows and Mining at Nehbandan.