Two limitations for imagination are funding resource and the government’s support for research. In this post I want to criticize the current policy in developing countries in the Middle East, then I want to introduce a recent established national institution in Iran. I think this institution may be an appropriate way to support students to improve their imaginations and skills.
Developing countries like many countries in the Middle East are sending their students to European and American countries to study in graduates programs. They support their students completely. They believe that these students will come back and improve the higher education in their countries. But, I believe that these type of activities cannot be enough and they should consider other aspects of higher education systems as well. One of the most important advantages of higher education systems in Europe and America is funding resources for projects. Most developing countries forget this important part of the higher education system. I believe that if the researchers cannot find good resources for their ideas and projects, they are not able to fulfill them. Therefore, higher education systems may not be beneficial for the society without any applied funded projects.
National Elite Foundation (NEF)
NEF was established in 2005 . This institution has some specific rules to identify elite students and faculties. The qualified individuals are supported by NEF completely. NEF supports them by providing stipends as a fellowship. I could not find fellowships in Iran like in the US, but if one person can be a member of NEF, he/she receives awards for all his/her academic education. There are three levels of NEF members. The first level is a great opportunity for Iranian students. Because, NEF supports them completely and provides several facilities for them such as: housing, stipends, funding for their research, loans, and jobs after graduation. NEF also supports the first level to create their own business. Therefore, a lot of students try to be a member of this institution. The manager of this institution is the vice president of the Iranian government. So, he/she has significant authority to create new laws for supporting the NEF’s members.
As a past member of NEF, I should mention that NEF’s laws were variable in the first five years (2005-2010). But, after 10 years, they created stable laws to identify the elite students. For example, the students those were top ten in national entrance exams can be members of NEF.
In conclusion, though there are some progress related to funding resources in Iran, more efforts are required to support scientific projects regularly.