Founded in 1974 as the Supreme Training College of Sanandaj, the University of Kurdistan is a teacher-training institution. It remains in the capital of Eastern Kurdistan, a city set close to mountains which boasts 141 mosques and a formidable tradition of mysticism.
Expansion into other disciplines brought elevation to university status under its current name in 1991, along with responsibility for every other higher education institution in the province, with a combined roll nearly three decades later of around 60,000 students.
Around a sixth of those study at at the campus on the edge of Sanandaj, where the aim is to provide "an environment which nurtures the training of human resources in a creative, responsible, motivated, conscious and disciplined way based on Islamic and moral values".
It does this through faculties of agriculture, art and architecture, engineering, humanities and social sciences, literature and foreign languages, natural resources and science, with a further science and engineering base in Bijar, 90 miles from Sanandaj.
The Institute of Kurdish Studies is a significant centre for the study of the language and associated culture, setting up a specialised library in 2000, devoting 10 years of research to the creation of a pioneering encyclopedia and initiating a collection of folklore in 2018.
In 2015 the university’s department of Kurdish language and literature offered Iran’s first post-school course in the language and from 2020 will offer a master's.
The university is one of six members of the EU-funded internationalisation of higher education in Iran (IHEI) project, and in 2018 the university received an award for the best international science activities by any Iranian university.