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220,000 academics leave Iran in one year, brain drain rising - Moin warns

5/2/01 Tehran, May 1, IRNA -- Some 220,000 leading academic elites and industrialists have left Iran for western countries over the past one year, the student news agency ISNA said Tuesday.

The agency quoted the Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mostafa Moin as saying that they are unlikely to return.

He criticized the lack of support and transparent policies for developing research and technology, saying that his ministry's budget in hard currency was just 40 million dollars.

"If academics had a proper place in our society, we would not have been inflicted with such tragedies as the (Tehran) university dormitory, Tabriz and Khorramabad," he said, referring to violent attacks by conservatives on students in July 1999 and August 2000.

In a latest reaction, some 109 university professors from throughout Iran signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami warning that the arrest of 20 dissidents, mostly university professors, may expedite the brain drain, a thorny issue Iran is grappling with.

"We are afraid that the detention may accelerate the trend of brain drain in Iran and deprive our developing society of necessary assets," they warned.

The Iranian population, estimated at 62 million, is one of the world's youngest, with 35 million people under the age of 20.

The country is bidding hard to create jobs for over three million unemployed in accordance with the provisions of a five-year development plan.

Grappling with an already high unemployment rate, estimated at about 16 percent, the government is faced with an increasing legion of university graduates that enter the work force each year to find jobs.

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