A Brief History of IAU

On May 21, 1982, two years after the culmination of the Iranian Cultural Revolution, an initiative called the Islamic Azad University was announced in the sermon of the Tehran Friday prayers by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani; this particularly historical speech was the result of his consultations with Dr. Abdollah Jassbi, an Iranian academic and politician, for opening the university.

That year in December, the university statutes were drawn up, based on which the university would be inaugurated as an establishment of public utility and all of its income would be spent on matters relating to the university.

The very first donation to the university was about a million tomans (about 327 current-day dollars) which was a contribution by the late Imam Khomeini (R.A.).

The first IAU entrance exam was held in February, 1983 with 32 thousand participants in Shahrud, Ahwaz, Tabriz, Tehran, Rasht, Zahedan, Kerman, Mashhad, and Yazd and almost three thousand students were accepted in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering, physics, mathematics, chemistry, metal industry, textile, and accounting majors.

Like other Iranian Higher Educational Institutions, Islamic Azad University is active under the supervision of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. The degrees awarded to IAU graduates are independent and granted with the direct endorsement of the Islamic Azad University.

IAU Achievements

The largest brick-and-mortar university in the world

Conservation of domestic funding within the borders

Training native experts with highly in-demand skills and know-how

Over a thousand student dormitories

Development of student counselling services at over 250 centers integrated with IAU branches

Focus on providing welfare services to students

IAU’s Honors

The 3rd university in the world in terms of the number of students

Five million graduates at different levels

10 million square meters of indoor educational space

70 thousand full-time and part-time faculty members and lecturers

IAU Media

Farhikhtegan Newspaper

Azad News Agency (ANA)

Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA)

Missions and Plans

Approved Missions

The most important strategies, designed with the aims of developing knowledge, continuous assessment, promotion of sustainable quality, and institutionalizing culture with the economics of education are as follows:

1. Constraining quantitative development in creating university’s branches and centers

2. Admitting professional PhD. Faculty members

3. Systematizing academic distribution of IAU units such as centers, Science and Research Campuses, and international and cross-border branches

4. Development of higher education and maintaining its balance throughout the country

5. Short-term and long-term plans for diminishment of losses from branches

6. Controlling employment of new staff and preventing the increase of extraneous personnel of university branches

7. Developing research and technological activities such as the founding of knowledge-based companies and incubators

8. Fostering qualitative and quantitative development of medical sciences, cultural and social studies and reengineering activities

9. Promoting qualitative and quantitative development in cultural and social fields with an emphasis on sustainable cultural projects

10. Completing unfinished construction projects

11. Diversifying sources of income for the university through knowledge-based economy and investment plans

12. Creating fiscal discipline through planning and budgeting system

13. Continuous evaluation of performance and plotting a path towards excellence

14. Promoting the welfare of employees, professors, and students at policy levels

15. Institutionalizing research, educational, and technological quality in line with the University goals

16. Promoting the rank of IAU in national, regional, and global ranking

17. Creating a culture based on the sublimity of Islamic management and relying on assurance, responsibility, accountability, work ethics, honesty, trustworthiness, lawfulness, and transparency

18. Accessing modern scientific and technological developments in line with the national priorities, requirements and interests through academic links with industry and society

20. Increasing the contributions of IAU to domestic science and technology -based products through commercializing research projects and developing knowledge-based companies

21. Giving priority to higher education as per the proclamations of Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei and the national comprehensive scientific map

22. Admitting students based on their location and upholding educational justice in the country

23. Admitting students in courses related to religious lessons and Islamic cultural development

24. Strengthening ties and cooperation with the society, labor market, and fulfilling the requirements of the country in scientific development

25. Managing and leading indigenous Islamic knowledge in accordance with the needs and demands of the country and youths

26. Focusing on adapting students admission methods to the goals of science and technology, social demands, and the general policies of the system

27. Raising awareness of the social capital of the Islamic Azad University by creating convergence, unification, and cooperation between staff, managers and assistants

28. Integrating units scattered throughout Tehran in integrated complexes in order to optimize resource use and introducing these units in a unified site as part of the competitive features of the university

Approved Programs

In order to fulfill the high-level approved objectives of the IAU directors and founding board, in accordance with the sacred goals of the Islamic Republic of Iran and within the framework of the directives compiled from the comprehensive scientific map and other upstream documents on national higher education, the below long-term and short term plans have been defined as the focus of attention in implementing IAU policies and managing challenges on the way to achieving the goals of the university:

1. Cutting losses associated with branches, reducing the number of centers and branches incurring losses in 2013-2014 and complete removal of loss risks by 2016-2017

2. Increasing the contribution of non-tuition income from about 1 % to nearly 10% in 2013-2014 and continuing that trend up to at least 30% in 2015-2016 through diversifying sources of income, knowledge-based activities, and investments

3. Increasing the direct research budget annually on a continuous basis

4. Increasing the contribution of technology and creating income through commercializing researches via incubators and knowledge-based companies

5. Improving and reforming the university’s faculty pyramid through admitting 5000 faculty members per year during the four years leading up to 1396 (2017), yielding a total of 20,000 faculty, and increasing the ratio of assistant professors to full professors and reducing the number of educators.

6. Focusing on fundamental issues of culture and society with an emphasis on sustainable cultural projects such as constructing mosques and Islamic cultural centers, monuments of unknown martyrs, strengthening religious and ethical beliefs

7. Increasing IAU contribution to global science production by the end of the 5th university program in 2015 by 66.0 percent, with projections showing that by 2023, based on the comprehensive scientific map, of Iran’s 5.4% contribution to global science, IAU’s share is 5.2 %

8. Developing higher education with a rapid growth rate, being responsible for at least 30 % of all university students, in accordance with the academic outlook document

9. Indexing activities in order to determine standards of performances and exact interactions through the establishment of an evaluation system and continuous monitoring of trends and performances in implementing programs, inputs, processes, outputs, and progress

10. Developing medical sciences through reengineering activities and processes and codifying a roadmap for medical sciences, operating 4 incomplete hospitals, Farhikhtegan (Tehran), Kazerun, Ardabil, and Tabriz by the end of 2014. Plans to complete ten incomplete hospitals by the end of 2016-2017 educational year and reforming the faculty pyramid, increasing the quality of accepted applicants, improving the quality of courses and units, developing magazines and publications of this field, increasing the quality and quantity of infrastructure centers (research, clinical, and treatment)

11. Increasing both the quality and number of research centers to 70 in 2012-2013 with projected increases to 150 centers in 2023 and increasing activities in various fields of science such as Medical Sciences, Engineering, Basic Sciences, Humanities, and Arts

12. Bringing order to work at IAU through preventing the employment of non-specialist staff and programmed intake of required specialist forces by maintaining current organizational posts and prioritizing a 10% reduction such that the ratio of students to employees and students to faculty be balanced; this ratio was reduced to 50:1 in 2013 and will be further cut down to 70:1 in 2016

University Leadership

1. Board of Founders

2. Board of Trustees

3. The President of the IAU

4. The IAU Council

1. The Board of founders consists of 9 members: Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili, Dr. Abdollah Jassbi, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, The late Dr. Hassan Habibi, Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Hojjat-ol-Eslam Dr. Mohsen Qomi, and Dr. Hamid Mirzadeh

2. Members of Board of Trustees are appointed with the following constituency:

  • Three full-time faculty members at the level of associated professor or higher who are approved by Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution
  • Three members of the Board of founders, one of which is a cleric.
  • The Ministers of Science, Research and Technology, Health and Medical Education, alongside their respective representatives
  • The Head of the Supreme Leader Representation organization in universities or his deputies
  • The president of the university (Secretary of the Board of Trustees)

3. The president of the university is responsible for administrative affairs. The president is appointed for 4 years by the proposal of the Board of Trustees, confirmation of Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, and the verdict of the chairman of the board of trustees.

4. Formation of the university council, faculties council, research, educational, and student commissions is carried out in accordance with the common criteria of universities and higher education institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and Ministry of Health and Medical Education


IAU Logo

The Islamic Azad University logo depicts 7 interwoven concepts:

1. The altar: signifying the worship of God and that the university must be a sacred place of worship.

2. The Arabic word “La (لا)”: representing the abbreviated form of the fundamental Islamic belief that “there is no deity but the Almighty God.”

3. Nib: referencing a holy Quran verse from the chapter "The Pen". Verse 1 of the chapter reads: “By the pen and that which they (the angels) write (therewith),” pointing to education

4. Wings: representing the concept of freedom and openness of the university. The two wings represent science and virtue.

5. Rehal (book rest for the Holy Quran): The sign of the Islamic foundation of the university, the tenets of which are inspired by the teachings of the Quran.

6. An architectural stylization of the main gates of Tehran University and the School of Divine Sciences which embodies the idea of the university education system

7. The words دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی )Islamic Azad University) written in Nastaʿlīq script, the location and composition of which is set and constant.

Click here to download the IAU logo

Dr Ali Akbar Velayati Head of Founding Council and Board of Trustees

Dr Ali Akbar Velayati

Ali Akbar Velayati is an Iranian politician, physician and academic. He was Iran's Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1996, and was recently appointed as the head of IAU board of directors and trustees.

Following the recent project initiated in the IAU to develop the range of offered programs and the support of the head of IAU board of directors and trustees, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, ISCANews decided to summarize his extensive academic background by the way of an introduction.

Dr. Velayati is an elite professor at Shahid Beheshti University and currently the Head of the Center for Strategic Research, IAU board of directors and trustees. He served for 16 years as Foreign Minister during the presidencies of Ayatollah Khamenei and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and is also the international affairs advisor of the Supreme Leader.

Dr. Velayati has had a large number of books and academic works published, about 180 of which are in the fields of medicine, history, culture and civilization of Islam and Iran, and also foreign policy.

He is one of the members of the Expediency Council, the High Council of the Cultural Revolution and the Foundation of Islamic Encyclopedia. In the medical field, He is the head of Dr. Maseeh Daneshvari Hospital and the Organ Transplant Support Society.

His various responsibilities include, among many others:

Faculty member of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (1974-1998)

Professor of Medical Department of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (from 1998 till now)

Representative of Tehran people in the first round of Islamic Consultative Assembly (1981)

Foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1981-1997)

Member of Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution (from 1989)

Member of Tehran University of Medical Sciences board of trustees of (1991-1998)

Member of Iran Medical Council board of directors (since 1991)

Member of the supreme committee of the Iran Medical Council (since 1991)

Member of the supreme council of National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (since 1992)

Head of the board of directors of the Iranian Scientific Association for Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine (since 1992)

Head of the Central Council of the Islamic Association of the Iranian Medical Society (since 1992)

Head of the scientific group on traditional and Islamic medicine of Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences (since 1992)

Acting Editor-in-Chief and concessioner of the Iranian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine (since 1993)

Member of Europe, America and Oceania Islamic Association of Graduates (since 1995)

Honorary member of Iranian Society of Organ Transplantation (since 1995)

Member of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences board of trustees (since 1995)

Advisor to the Supreme Leader in international affairs (since 1997)

Head of Research, Educational, and medical center for Tuberculosis and Pulmonary Diseases (since 1997)

Member of the Expediency Discernment Council (since 1997)

Jury Member of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (since 1997)

Head of Contemporary Islam-The Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation

Head of Iranian Society for Support of Patients with Infectious Diseases (ISSPID) (since 2004)

Head of Iran and Islam culture and civilization committee in the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution (since 2005)

Council member of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (2005-2014)

Member of technical committee against tuberculosis (since 2005)

Member of the editorial board of the Shi’ite Studies journal since (since 2006)

Vice chairman of the Iranian Strategic Council for Foreign Relations (since 2006)

Member of Islamic Azad University board of trustees and MPH council of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (since 2006)

Member of the medical ethics and rights department of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (since 2007)

Member of Supreme Council of Transplantation of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (since 2006)

Head of Social Cultural Commission of Expediency Discernment Council (since 2007)

Member of the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, traditional medicine (since 2007)