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Iran’s Elites Are Gone ‘Forever’

‘Brain drain’ is a real problem in Iran, as graduates emigrate abroad in their thousands for better job prospects.

On August 29, the Iranian regime’s state-run daily Etemad published an article entitled ‘They are gone forever’, which pointed to the critical situation of the ‘brain drain’ in Iran. The regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi ordered the Center for Presidential Strategic Studies to implement the plan of “elite retention and reverse migration”.

However, contrary to the regime’s claim about the success of this plan, the state-run media is writing about its failure.

Etemad counted the reasons for the high number of elite migrations, stating, “Countless unfulfilled promises of the governments about reforming and solving political, economic, and social challenges, improving the living conditions of citizens in the country, ending economic corruption and rent-seeking, and social and economic discrimination at all levels of society, are among the most important reasons for the decision of a large number of physicians to leave permanent.”

According to a statement by the regime’s Medical System Organization three years ago, between 2011 and 2018, “the number of requests by doctors to receive the Good Standing professional certification increased to 1,000 per year, and forecasts indicated that in these 7 years, 300 to 350 general physicians and 300 specialist physicians have emigrated from the country.”

Etemad also reported that “according to official statistics, the number of Iranian students abroad increased from 44,000 to more than 59,000 between 2010 and 2019.” About 10,000 of the total Iranian immigrant students were studying in medical fields.

Etemad added, “In the past three years, the number of requests by doctors to receive professional approvals from the medical system organization has increased to more than 4,000 per year. This threefold growth over these three years shows that the conditions that forced a group of elites in the country to emigrate have become more disappointing. Thus, medical graduates prefer to face the hardships of leaving their hometowns.”

In August, as the regime’s cabinet of ministers decided to increase the annual income of the physicians up to 120 million rials, the country’s elites are disappointed about any progress and openings, and consider such applications by the government as hollow promises that have been given many times over the past few years, because of the political, social, and economic disturbances.

A clear fact about the regime’s incompetence is the lack of specialist physicians for the remote regions and cities of the country. Due to the shortage of doctors in remote areas, there is talk of a plan to employ non-native doctors, which was referred to as a ‘mandatory plan’ by the Etemad daily, in which the doctors would have to serve in remote areas for at least two years.

What the people majorly suffer from in these areas is the lack of safe drinking water, established roads, and the usual infrastructure, such as internet and cell phone networks.

According to Etemad, “Some of the graduates in the medical and paramedical fields have gone to one of the medical universities abroad to continue their specialized studies over the past few years. After completing their studies and receiving their specialized degrees, to facilitate the return of this group of elites and increase the number of returnees, no opportunities have been provided.”

According to the official statistics of the regime’s Ministry of Health, among the graduates of medical fields who have emigrated in the last 10 years, “a very small number of about 2000 people, and less than 15%, have requested to return to the country, and of course, for those who wanted to return, there were no incentives and facilities provided.”

Worse still, the regime has decided to interfere in the private lives and decisions of these elites, while having no appropriate solution to the mass emigration of these people.

The Etemad daily further stated that at the beginning of August, the regime’s Ministry of Health’s Vice-Chancellor of Education announced the re-implementation of the document restrictions plan for the physicians who decided to migrate abroad.

According to this announcement, “Applicants for education at personal expense abroad, until they have completed their planning period in the selected areas, will not receive graduation certificates, unless they pay large guarantees of over 200 million rials, or in the form of property documents. After committing to serve after graduating from a foreign university, they will only receive educational documents and a temporary medical certificate.”

According to this logic, if this law is not followed; the graduates’ documents will not be released.

This plan has led to many protests and criticism from the elites, who considered it a government intervention in their lives and personal decisions.

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