Corruption in National University Entrance Exams Rocks Iran | Rare Techy


The head of Iran’s Education Evaluation Organization has denied corruption in the administration of standardized university entrance exams, but many remain unconvinced.

Responding to allegations that exam questions were leaked and sold for huge sums, Higher Education Ministry’s Evaluation Organization (Saseman-e Sanjesh) head Abdulrasul Purabbas took the oath in a program aired by state-run television (IRIB) on Saturday. That the corruption in conducting the examination is not correct.

Social media users posted images of the test booklets within half an hour of the exam, proving they were leaked, but Purabbas insisted that no one could have accessed the test questions. According to him, 480 participants were arrested for trying to use digital devices to get answers to multiple-choice test questions from outside.

About a million young men and women took part in the annual university entrance exam, known as the Concours, from Wednesday to Friday to compete for available places at universities and colleges across the country, but few of them already knew the questions and the correct answers.

A Telegram social media channel published evidence of leaked exam questions less than half an hour after the exam began on Friday. Many claim to have sold questions and answers to those who can afford to pay between $10,000-$20,000 to get placement in top universities. Those who fail or are not admitted to the universities of their choice, have to wait for one more year to retake the concourse.

Figures cited in local media are huge in Iran, where the middle class has been impoverished by inflation of 40-50 percent for years. The scandal has further tarnished the already discredited image of the priestly government in the eyes of the general public.

A student who gets an A in a long and tedious university entrance exam

Held once a year across the country, the Concours (from French, meaning competition) is designed to test a student’s ability to attend college with questions based on Iran’s high school curriculum. It is recognized by all Iranian state universities and Islamic Azad University, which has branches across the country.

Allegations of corruption in the running of the Concours are not new. This year, officials said additional measures were taken, including shutting down Wi-Fi and mobile internet around exam locations during hours-long exams. Candidates were also searched before the exam and signal detectors were used to ensure they were not using digital devices such as mobile phones or Bluetooth to cheat.

Several lawmakers have called for an investigation into the recurring issue of leaking and selling nationally-run concours questions and graduate school entrance exams.

Mehrdad Weis-Karami, a member of the parliament’s education committee, told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Saturday that there are organized criminal groups that help candidates cheat for large sums of money. It is not clear who is leaking the questions and how the money is being transferred.

Weiss-Karami urged the authorities to take precautions such as frequently relocating those involved in preparing and distributing test questions to prevent the possibility of cheating.

The concourse is held in five main groups (mathematics and physics, experimental sciences, humanities, arts and foreign languages). All the participants are required to take exams in Persian Literature, Islamic Studies, Culture, Arabic and English Language.

The Supreme Cultural Revolution Council decided last year that starting this year, the score in the Concours will account for 40 percent of the final score for admission to university, with the remaining 60 percent coming from the high school average grade point.


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