The main entrance of the University of Tehran

Fired Academics Speak Out As Tehran University Denies Mass Expulsions

Thursday, 03/14/2024

Fired faculty members from the University of Tehran are challenging the chancellor who recently claimed no professors have been expelled amid mass crackdowns on dissent.

Prominent sociologist, Ebrahim Bay Salami, himself fired in January last year, remarked, "My colleagues and I are prepared to engage in a debate with the chancellor of the University of Tehran," after thousands of academics around Iran have been forced to retire or had contracts terminated in the wake of the 2022 uprising.

The controversy arose when Mohammad Moghimi, the university's chancellor, declared in an interview, "We have not expelled any professors at the University of Tehran. When allegations of expulsion are raised concerning a professor, it signifies the unilateral termination of the professor's contract with the university due to various reasons. If any cases of expulsion are identified, please introduce them to me. I am fully prepared to hold a session with the media present and debate with any professor claiming to have been expelled."

Salami, speaking in an interview with Khabar Online, urged Chancellor Moghimi to release his complete academic dossier and disclose any issues that led to his expulsion.

Azin Movahed, another university faculty member, said he and his colleagues had also received notices of dismissal, expressing willingness to debate with Moghimi on the matter.

Recent reports reveal the extent of academic pressure in Iran. Etemad, a prominent reformist daily, published a list documenting the dismissal, forced retirement, or banning from teaching of 157 tenured professors between 2006 and August 2023. The trend extended to non-tenured lecturers, purportedly replaced by individuals aligned with the government's ideological stance.

A further 32,000 associate professors have been removed from their positions at various branches of the Islamic Azad University in Iran, it was revealed last year, amidst a major reshuffling of academic roles in the country's higher education system.

The situation escalated amid protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody in September 2022, prompting a crackdown by the Raisi administration, including summoning, detaining, and suspending professors aligned with the demonstrators.

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