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“Iranian history, literature most sought-after”



Professor Mohammad Kafi, president of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ferdowsi University of Mashhad was established in 1949, and with nearly seven decades of a brilliant academic record, research and cultural history, it is currently one of Iran’s top three universities and also the largest centre of higher education in the northeast of Iran. Professor Mohammad Kafi, president of the university, spoke to Shailaja Paramathma in an email interview about institutes of higher education and the student life in Iran. Excerpts from the interview:

The Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM) offers 180 bachelors, masters and PhD programs in the field of engineering, humanities and various sciences. Which are the most sought-after courses?

All the courses and programmes are of standard scientific level at the university and many students from several countries are studying in different disciplines. However, programmes associated with humanities, such as Iranian history and literature, are more sought-after. Courses in chemistry, electrical engineering, mathematics, agronomy and food sciences are also excellent compared to other universities in Iran.

How many foreign students and from which countries seek out FUM, in particular, and other Iranian universities, in general, for higher education?

With 1,500 foreign students from 20 countries, FUM has the largest number of international students among Iranian universities. Main countries that send their students to FUM are neighbouring countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Lebanon. European and East Asian countries also select our university for courses in Persian language as well as for Iranian history and humanities courses. The same pattern holds true for other Iranian universities.

There was a time, around two decades ago, when the Iranian government offered substantial scholarships to Indian students to pursue higher education in Iranian universities. It has now stopped. What is the reason behind it?

These have stopped from our side. At present, all foreign students, including Indian applicants, can apply for scholarship through the Iranian ministry of science and technology. The university authorities can also offer some discount in tuition fee for meritorious students. But, generally speaking, we do not use our capacity for student exchange.

A grand view of the university gates

A grand view of the university gates

What is the vision of the universities in the long run to attract more foreign students? Is making English the medium of instruction going to be one of them?

In this regard, we have established an International Centre for Teaching Persian to Non-Persian Speakers. Undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to undergo a three- to six-month Persian language learning programme before they start their study. However, for graduates, many of our scientists are well-familiar with English as a second language and there is no problem in communicating with foreign students. We are also trying to offer some courses in English as well as the possibility of writing the dissertation, too, in English for international post-graduate students.

Mashhad is also known as “Iran’s spiritual capital”. How does the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, named after the laureate of Persian literature, poet Ferdowsi, serve to keep that link alive in its everyday life?

On one hand, Persian literature is mixed with spirituality and, on the other, Islam accords importance to science and literature. The faculty of theology and the faculty of literature at FUM are among the top and the most famous faculties in Iran. Furthermore, families nationally and internationally select Mashhad due to this advantage for their children to study.

Culturally, how is the everyday life of a student coming from a country like India different in Iran?

Iranian hospitality is world-famous and all the students from around the world take back good memories from their stay in Iran. High living standards, cleanliness, welfare and safety besides plenty of customs and cultures are the highlights of life in Iran. Visiting places of historical value is another.

Students attend lessons on the university campus

How do you keep in touch with your foreign students after they graduate? The fee that they pay would be higher than that for a local student, how is your alumni program’s outreach for a foreign student?

FUM is establishing an alumni association in which communication among graduates and university and other programs are planned. The tuition fees are competitive and there is hardly any difference in the fee structure between self-financed Iranian students and the international students.

Iranian economy is at present at an all time high; the sanctions have been lifted and the overall approach is more business-oriented. How come the assistance that the Iranian government used to give to its own students to study in India has now trickled to a minimum? What is the reason behind it?

After the lifting of sanctions, the Iranian government has envisaged many development programmes in various sectors. Supporting students to study at top universities all over the world will be one of the development programs. At the moment we have more than 4,000 Iranian students studying in various Indian universities. The main reason for reduction in this number is the increasing availability of seats in domestic universities. Some other factors to be considered are living expenses, student visa, and the time-consuming procedure for getting admission abroad.

The School of Architecture at the University of Tehran and the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran impart a few of the-best rated courses in their said fields. How important is it for a foreign student to know Persian to pursue these courses and does lack of that knowledge deter them from joining?

We encourage all applicants to learn Persian before starting their main courses so that they are able to communicate with people in the society, particularly those who are interested in pursuing Islamic architecture. However, universities are ready to offer courses in English if the number of foreign students is considerable. As I said earlier, for graduate students who are taking fewer subjects and are fewer in number in each course, teaching in English is more feasible. Now our faculty of architecture has ranked fourth amongst Iranian architecture faculties and we invite Indian applicants to pursue their studies in FUM.

Courses in entrepreneurship seem to be the next big thing in Iran. Tell us more about these courses and why students are attracted to them.

Today, universities are trying to provide courses and facilities to students to help them learn skills and gain experience, so that they can enter the job market upon completion of the study. FUM centres for entrepreneurship, incubator and innovation centres are in the chain for doing this mission, but still we are very far from the goals that we have aimed for.

You spent more than three years in India as the scientific counsellor at the Iranian Embassy in New Delhi and travelled extensively to the rest of India. What is your fondest memory of India?

India is a great country and there is always something for everybody that attracts and appeals to them. For me, India has plenty to offer, like its deep sense of culture in everyday life, neutrality, respect to elders and family, and simplicity of living.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Latest world news

Five news stations receive letter bombs in Ecuador, one explodes in journalist’s face

Minister says the bombs were sent as a clear message to silence journalists in violence-ridden Ecuador



Police officials searching for bombs in a new station in Ecuador

Ecuadorean authorities have reported that a series of letter bombs were mailed to five different TV and radio new stations in Ecaudor. The explosive devices were delivered to journalists on Monday, March 20.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata informed that one of these letters exploded in Guayaquil’s Ecuavisa private TV station. The bomb burst in the middle of the newsroom in presenter Lenin Artieda’s face. He was injured but not severely. Lenin informed the police that the device was structured like a USB drive, and it exploded as he plugged it into his computer.

Zapata added that all the devices were similar and sent from the town of Quimsaloma, on the Los Rios coast. The Ecuadorean attorney-general’s department has begun their investigation on the letters as an act of terrorism. Journalists have said that the bombs were sent to intimidate the free press and silence the media.

 Zapata also said that the government condemns such attacks and freedom of expression is a right that must be respected. The other four explosives sent through post never exploded as they failed or were never opened.

Police officer Xavier Chango informed the USB drive sent to Artieda seemed to be loaded with a military-type explosive RDX.

Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, and has become a hub for global drug trade in the recent years. The increased violence is a result of competition and clashes between drug criminal gangs for territory and charge.

In 2022, the RTS TV station came under gunfire attack and in 2020, a bomb exploded at Teleamazonas. President Guillermo Lasso had declared war on the gangs controlling drug trade from prisons, and has led to the death of more than 400 inmates since 2021. Ecuador’s murder rate has jumped from 14 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 25 per 100,000 in 2022.

Two local gangs, the Lobos and Los Tiguerones, working with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel, have been responsible for these deadly prison riots. The Jalisco cartel is considered one of the five most dangerous criminal organizations in the world and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera, aka El Mencho, is among the most wanted by both Mexican and U.S. authorities.

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India News

Earthquake leaves 11 dead in Pakistan, tremors shake North India

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.



Pakistan Earthquake

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.

According to reports by Pakistani media, tremors were felt in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, and other areas of the country. In a statement, Pakistan Meteorological Department said the epicenter of the quake—which hit at a depth of 180 kilometers, at a latitude of 36.09 and a longitude of 71.35. — was the seismically active Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan.

Reports said that tremors and aftershocks were also witnessed in Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kot Momin, Madh Ranjha, Chakwal, Kohat and in Gilgit-Baltistan areas.

Pakistani news channels showed panicked citizens running out of their home and on the streets to seek refuge from the tremors.

According to a report by Pakistan-based Geo News, eleven people, including two women were killed while over 160 people were injured due to the earthquake.

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The strong jolts also led to the collapse of several buildings in impacted regions while a stamped was witnessed in markets of Rawalpindi when the earthquake hit, according to The Express Tribune newspaper.

State-run Associated Press of Pakistan released a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has directed disaster management authorities to remain vigilant to handle any situation while Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel declared an emergency in Islamabad hospitals.

A statement by the international seismological centre said that apart from Pakistan, tremors were also felt in India, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan.

Tremors of the earthquake, that hit at around 10:17 pm on Tuesday night, were felt across Northern India including Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. However, no casualties were reported. However, reports of damages to buildings are coming in from different parts of North India.

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Latest world news

Rupert Murdoch set to marry for 5th time at 92

Murdoch, who met 66-year-old Smith last September at an event held at Murdoch’s vineyard in California, is planning to marry her in the summer.



Rupert Murdoch Smith

Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born American business magnate, announced on Monday that he will be marrying for the fifth time at the age of 92. Murdoch is already engaged to former San Francisco police chaplain Ann Lesley Smith.

Talking about his fifth marriage, Murdoch, the 31st richest person in the United States, said he was very nervous, and dreaded falling in love, but he knew it would be his last. He said he is happy about it.

Murdoch, who met 66-year-old Smith last September at an event held at Murdoch’s vineyard in California, is planning to marry her in the summer. He said that they both are looking forward to spending the second half of their lives together. They will spend their time between California, the UK, Montana and New York, reports state.

Smith is the widow of an American country singer and media executive who died in 2008. Speaking about the relationship with Murdoch, Smith said the two bonded over their shared knowledge of the media business.

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She said for both of them it’s a gift from God. She said she is a widow for 14 years. Smith went on to say that like Rupert, her husband was a businessman. Worked for local papers, developed radio and TV stations, and helped promote Univision. So she speaks Rupert’s language. They share the same beliefs, she added.

Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp., has six children from his first three marriages. Prudence MacLeod, with his first wife Patricia Booker, then Elisabeth and sons Lachlan and James with his second wife Anna Mann. He has two more daughters, Grace and Chloe, with his third wife Wendi Deng.

Later, he married former supermodel Jerry Hall for the fourth time. But the couple decided to part ways eight months ago after being together for six years.

According to Forbes, Murdoch is believed to have a fortune of around $17 billion. His empire includes Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and a string of other media assets around the world.

Rahul Gandhi says he won’t be intimidated days after Delhi Police search his residence

Traffic chaos as rain lashes Delhi NCR, more showers forecast tomorrow

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