The University of Massachusetts is coming in for criticism for its decision earlier this month to stop admitting Iranian nationals to certain science and engineering programs, in what the university described as it merely complying with U.S. law.
To prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapons program, the U.S. passed a law in 2012 that bars Iranian citizens from getting visas to study in the U.S. if they plan to return to Iran and work in nuclear energy or related fields, the Boston Globe reports. But that appears to be different from what the university has imposed on its Amherst campus, according to the State Department.
“U.S. law does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals coming to the United States for education in science and engineering,” an official said in a statement to the Globe and NBC News. “Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We will reach out to UMass Amherst to discuss this specific decision.”
The university's decision, posted on Feb. 6, outraged many students on campus. "We always felt like an integral part of the university community," Shirin Hakim, a recent Iranian-American graduate, told NBC. "Now we're just kind of confused. We want an explanation for all this, and we don't think it should be tolerated, because it's clearly discriminatory against Iranian nationals."