A study carried out by StudentNews and published online last week has revealed that there has been an increase in gender discrimination and gender separation in Iranian universities, at the expense of women.
Based on data collected by students on universities and courses that will teach men and women in separate classes, the study has shown that Iranian women are being increasingly prevented from completing degrees in prestigious science and engineering programmes.
The Mehr News Agency reported on Monday that 36 universities have closed 77 fields of study to women, including engineering, accounting, education, counselling, the restoration of monuments and chemistry. StudentNews’ study shows that Iranian women are more likely to be directed towards less prestigious universities and degrees such as theology and Arabic literature courses.
More than 600 degree programmes in 60 universities in Iran are segregated by gender. Officially, the numbers are much lower. It was announced in August 2011 that 20 universities and 40 departments would begin accepting either male or female students, University World News reported.
The study also revealed that one in every six students is in a male-only or female-only university course, with an average of more than 17% of university courses separated.
Several universities, including the University of Semnan, Kharazmi Tehran and the Art Schools of Tabriz, Mazandaran and Kashan have announced that they will automatically reject applications from women.
Ardebil Mohaghegh University has closed 24 fields of study to women, the Lorestan University 18 and the International University of Imam Khomeini in 15.
Findings show increasing efforts from the government to separate male and female students. Following the 2009 elections, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei encouraged universities to put a greater focus on Islamic principles as he thought that higher education was the catalyst that set into motion the mass protests.