Sanandaj (Kurdish: سنەSine; Persian: سنندج‎) is the capital of Kurdish culture and Kurdistan Province in Iran. With a population of 414,069, Sanandaj is the twenty third largest city in Iran and the second largest Kurdish city. Sanandaj's founding is fairly recent, (about 200 years ago), yet under its short existence it has grown to become a center of Kurdish culture.

Organisation reference

University of Kurdistan


Iran has a large network of public and private affiliated universities offering degrees in higher education. State-run universities of Iran are under the direct supervision of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) (for non-medical universities) and Ministry of Health and Medical Education (for medical schools). According to article 3 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran guarantees "free education and physical training for everyone at all levels, and the facilitation and expansion of higher education." The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology in

Geographical context

Kurdistan Province, covering an area of 29,137 square kilometers lies in northwestern Iran and is the region of focus. It is one of 31 provinces in the country and has over 200 kms of shared border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Its neighbouring provinces are West Azarbaijan (north) and Zanjan (north and east), Hamedan (east), Kermanshah (south). The province has 10 counties, 31 districts, 29 towns and 86 rural districts based on 2014 official state divisions. Its capital, Sanandaj, is situated in the south of the province. The western half is mostly a mountainous region with an average altitude of

Social context

The province has a population of 1,493,645 based on the 2011 census of which 66% are urban dwellers and 34% rural dwellers. In the period 2006-2011, migration to cities increased by 22.89% and is likely to increase more rapidly. One of the main reasons that citizens migrate to cities in the province is to have better access to educational facilities and other basic services and consequently better employment opportunities. 

Most of the rural districts have primary level education only and higher education institutes in all forms are non-existent and thus to continue to a higher level,

Economic context

Most people in Kurdistan Province are engaged in agricultural industry, animal husbandry, and horticulture. The natural climatic conditions of the region as well as its fertile lands make the province an ideal place for the aforementioned industries. Wheat, barley, potato, grains, fruits and vegetables are the major agricultural products. As agriculture is a major industry in the province, agricultural machinery is also of great importance. Hence, currently the province has 125 workshops that specialize in agricultural machinery. On a smaller scale, the province’s economy is dependent on metal

Environmental issues

Both urban and rural regions in Kurdistan particularly, the capital city of Sanandaj are facing environmental problems such as water, air and noise pollution. Regional political instability, ethnic tensions, politically motivated decisions, wars and economic sanctions and lack investment and sufficient funds, are major contributors to the environmental problems. In fact these problems are causing serious health issues for the inhabitants and sometimes death.

Furthermore, over-use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture due to lack of awareness threaten food security. The global

Social issues

Although based on the latest Human Development Report life expectancy at birth has increased to 75.6 years, but due to health circumstances,  one of the the lowest life expectancy is observed in Kurdistan. Therefore, despite of many health centers and facilities which exist in the province, there is a lack of specialist health workers that carry out specialist treatments. Residents must travel great distances ( the capital which is an 8 hour journey by car) to receive highly specialized treatments.  There is a minimal welfare system offering very limited services. However, studies which

Economic issues

The following can be considered as key economic issues which need to be tackled critically:  

  1. High unemployment rate with increasing number of unemployed young graduated people.
  2. Current status of road infrastructure could be improved for better linkages to the rest of the country.
  3. Transportation systems are weak. There is 1 airport in the province with daily flights to only the capital. No rail networks exist which are all important for national and ultimately international relations.
  4. Lack of investment from international investors.
  5. Lack of entrepreneurship – unable to change innovative

Other regionally-specific issues

Kurdistan Province and Iran enjoys relatively high political security in the Middle East considering that it is surrounded by highly unstable political regions such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Migration to cities in the province has increased dramatically impacting the agricultural industries causing the abandonment of villages and the rural life. Most migrate in search of better employment opportunities and educational facilities. Moreover, in major cities in the province such as Sanandaj and Saqez, there is the problem of illegal habitation which impacts local council planning.  The

Organisation and management

Although under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, University of Kurdistan has a non-centralized administrative structure managed by a Board of Trustees. It is financed by the aforementioned ministry and was officially given university status in 1991 by the Ministry of Higher Education and Culture. Prior to that, it was first an affiliate of Tehran Teacher Training Institute and then an off- campus faculty of Razi University (Kermanshah).

The Board of Trustees members are the Chancellor of the University, Minister for Education, Assistant Minister for Education

Main priorities of HEI in the region

  1. To have own special identity and specialize in areas that are of importance to the region such as Agriculture and Agricultural Machinery, Forestry, Water, Mining and Kurdish Studies. Currently UOK is the only university in the country that offers a degree programme in Kurdish Language and Literature and has a very active Kurdish Studies Research Institute. 
  2. Internationalization of Higher Education in order to compete on a global level.
  3. Establishing strong links with industry.
  4. Towards improving ranking through scientific and practical research development. 
  5. Establishing greater links and

Cultural issues

Kurds are a minority group with unique cultural identity. The vast majority of Iranian Kurds are Sunni Muslims whose ancestors converted during the 7th Century Arab conquest. There are also a large number of Shi’a Muslims within the Kurdish population primarily living in the Ilam and Kermanshah provinces of Iranian Kurdistan.[1]

A small minority of the population are also still followers of traditional and indigenous religions worshipped before the proliferation of Islam. These religions are Yazdanism/Yazidism and Ahl-e Haqq, and both have been practiced by the Kurd’s for nearly 2000 years.