A new study shows that 53.2% of the Iranian students in the US in 2016/2017 were enrolled in the engineering fields. The return of these engineers to their home country could help Iran’s startup ecosystem which is facing a human resource challenge.
Out of 12,643 Iranian students in the US in 2016/2017, 53.2% of them were enrolled in Engineering study fields, according to MastersDegree.net. 11.8% were enrolled in Math/Computer Sciences programs, while 11.7% were in Physical/Life Sciences, 5% in Business/Management and 4.6% in Fine/Applied Arts programs.
One of Iran’s biggest challenges during the past decades has been losing its brightest young graduates to the west. The first wave of immigration from Iran started in the early 1980’s during the Iran-Iraq war. The country saw a substantial brain drain in the early 1990s when it lost 15 percent of its highly educated individuals, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In the recent years, Iran’s government has been trying to slow down the brain drain in the country and has put up incentives for Iranian academic elites to return back to the country. Currently, Iran’s National Elites Foundation, a governmental body founded in 2005, provides facilities, low-interest loans and grants to its qualified “elites” in various professional fields.
According to Sorena Sattari, Iran’s Vice-President for Science and Technology, at the begging of the 1979 revolution, Iran had 270 thousand university students, of which 100 thousand of them studied abroad and 50 thousand of them studied in the US. According to Sattari, of the 4.7 million Iranian university students, 48 thousand students study abroad while only 12 thousand students study in the United States.
Expat repatriation could help Iran’s startup ecosystem more than ever
In the past few years, after the lifting of some of the sanctions and the increments in the Iranian society, many successful Iranians abroad decided to come back to their home country. Many of these expats were graduates of the top universities in the US and Europe who came back to start their own venture in Iran.
Currently, many tech companies in Iran are eager to attract the top talents who are coming back to the country, since there’s a lack of high-level professionals in specific technical fields who also have the experience of working at giant tech companies in Europe or the US.