Twenty Iranian universities have announced that in the coming academic year, 40 departments will begin accepting only one gender of student.

The Shargh daily reports that Tehran, AmirKabir, Esfahan, Mohaghegh Ardebili, Zabil, Shiraz Arts and Tabriz Sahand Universities are among the 20 higher education institutions in Iran that will be offering certain majors only to men or women.

Sociology, history, literature, mining, arts education and mathematics are the affected areas of study.

Gender separation in university appears to be underway in Iranian universities despite criticism from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who last month called the proposed measures "superficial and unwise."

Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo had responded by saying he would abide by the president’s demand to immediately halt such measures. However, the plans appear to be still in progress.

Controversy has grown around co-ed university classes over the past year.

The conservative elite has repeatedly called for gender separation in universities and rejected co-ed classes as a "Western model" of education.

There has been also talk of building new universities that cater only to one sex or the other.

Ever since the mass protests of 2009, triggered by allegations of vote fraud in the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, universities have been targeted with major changes and political cleansing. It’s because the Supreme Leader singled out youth and student movements as a major force behind the protests.