University Restricts Iranian Students from Certain Programs

Jozsef Papp

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst released a policy statement prohibiting Iranian students from applying or receiving admission to certain majors in the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Science.

After a lot of criticism online, the university deleted all references to the policy from its website. In a statement released to The Huffington Post, the university gives their reasons for implementing the policy.

“We recognize that our adherence to federal law may create difficulties for our students from Iran and regard this as unfortunate,” the university said in the statement. “Furthermore, the exclusion of a class of students from admission directly conflicts with our institutional values and principles.”

In the statement, the university added that they “have no choice but to institute policies and procedure to ensure that we are in full compliance with all applicable laws.”

UMass is blaming the policy on a 2012 Iran sanction bill and subsequent guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to The Huffington Post. The bill restricts visas to alien students who plan to study for a career in the energy or nuclear fields in Iran, according to the Boston Herald.

The National Iranian American Council Policy Director Jamal Abdi hopes the university reconsiders their policy and removes it.

“The rejection of Iranian students is based on a misinterpretation of U.S. sanctions law,” Abdi said in an email to The Huffington Post. “We hope the policy is reversed so that UMass Amherst can continue to be an institution that fosters academic exchange and open communications, instead of an instrument of a harmful sanctions policy.”