(Persia Digest) - Iran is the third leading engineer-producing country in the world but the first in terms of migration of elites, especially engineering graduates. Until a few years ago, engineering was regarded as an attractive and high-income discipline. However, at present, the highest number of unemployed graduates are from the engineering schools. For a long time, Iran has been the bedrock of noted engineers and scientists, of whom, one of the most renowned was Khajeh Nasir Toosi, whose birthday has been referred to in Iran as the “Engineer Day.”
Khajeh Nasir Toosi, Iran's renowned engineer
Toosi was born on February 24, 1200, in the city of Tous (also spelled as Toos, near present-day Mashhad). He was a poet, philosopher, orator, jurisprudent, scientist, mathematician, and astronomer. The establishment of Maragheh Observatory was one of the works he carried out during his scientific activities. He wrote more than 60 works on the principles of religion, logic, geometry, astrology, astronomy, assessment of poetry and knowledge of meters and measures in poetry, and poems. Because of the scientific activities and influence of Toosi, a 60-km volcanic crater on the moon was named in his honor. An asteroid discovered by the Russian astronomer Nikolay Stepanovic Chernich in 1979 was also named after him. Khajeh Nasir Toosi University in Tehran and Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory in the Republic of Azerbaijan were also named after him. In the official calendar of Iran, February 24 is named Khajeh Nasir Toosi’s Commemorative Day and the Engineer Day, and many conferences and ceremonies are concurrently held on this day every year.
Iran: An Engineer Producing Factory
Based on the World Economic Forum statistics, in 2015, next to Russia and the United States, Iran, with 233695 engineers graduating annually from its engineering schools, has the most engineering graduates in the world (China and India have not been included in these statistics). However, in proportion to its population (78 million people), Iran produces the largest number of engineers every year (Russia has a population of 145 million and the United States has 320 million people). Interestingly, 70% of graduates from Iranian engineering schools are women, and Iran is first in the world in this respect. Furthermore, engineering graduates with bachelor's degree make up 40% of the total number of graduates in Iran.
The rising number of unemployed engineers in Iran
In recent years, engineering disciplines in Iran have not maintained their past popularity. The saturation of job market in this field and large numbers of unemployed graduates have led to the replacement of engineering position with medicine with regard to demand in the job market in a way that even students majoring in math opt for medical disciplines in university entrance exams. Of the total 929791 applicants for admission to the universities in Iran in 2017, only 148429 students enrolled in math and disciplines in technology while there were 580301 applicants for admission to the schools for experimental sciences. In this respect, perhaps Iran will be still among the first countries with the most number of graduates in medical sciences in the world when statistics regarding medical school graduates are published a few years from now.
Currently, 75% of the unemployed in Iran are university graduates of whom, engineering disciplines such as computer sciences, architecture, physics, and agricultural engineering have the highest rate of unemployment. This has led to many graduates emigrating to other countries to continue their studies in the higher academic levels and to find work; a phenomenon in Iran that has been dubbed “Brain drain,” and mainly concerns engineering disciplines.
Iran ranks first in the world for immigration of elites
There are no precise statistics of Iranians living abroad, but according to some numbers and figures, at present, there are five million Iranians living abroad, and a large proportion of them are educated and are scientific and technological experts. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran is ranked first in terms of “Brain drain” among 91 developing and underdeveloped countries in the world, and between 150 and 180 thousand educated Iranians take measures to leave the country every year. This figure is equivalent to an annual loss of 150 billion dollars for Iran. According to the statistics from the Parliament and the Iran Ministry of Education, 70% of the top rank holders in the Nationwide University Entrance Exam, Olympiads, and scientific medalists have left Iran. The majority of these elites are engineering students and graduates. According to a report by Brookings Institute in 2013, among the 74 countries in the world, Iran ranked first in the percentage of science, technology, and (stem) engineering students as compared to the total number of Iranian students in the United States. Furthermore, according to this report, the highest percentage of Iranian students remaining in the United States belong to the engineering sciences.
Leading Iranian Universities in engineering sciences
According to a report by the Spanish Institute CISC, there are less than 500 universities in any of the most developed countries in the world, including 412 in Germany, 291 in England, 329 in Canada, 236 in Italy, and 423 in the Netherlands. However, there are 2640 universities in Iran, while with populations several times more than Iran, China and India have only 2481 and 1620 universities, respectively. The best universities in Iran are those that excel in technical and engineering disciplines.
According to Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Islamic World Science (ISC) citation databases, University of Tehran, The Amirkabir University (formerly the Polytechnic Institute), Sanati-Sharif (Technology University), University of Elm & Sanat (Science and Technology) of Iran, Tarbiat Modares University, Sanati (Technology) University of Isfahan, Khajeh Nasir Toosi University, Islamic Azad Science and Research Division, Shiraz University, and Ferdowsi University of Mashhad had the highest quantity of graduates in the fields of science and engineering in Iran.
Concerning ranking of universities, these universities have been recognized as the best Iranian universities in the technical and engineering fields by the ranking systems such QS, Shanghai, European, Taiwan, and ESI affiliated with the Web of Science.
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