AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Following a backlash over a policy change that banned Iranian students from science and engineering programs, the University of Massachusetts is changing course. The university announced Wednesday that that it will admit students from Iran into those courses of study, but will develop “individualized study plans” for them in order to meet legal standards set forth by sanctions against the Islamic republic over its nuclear program.
“This approach reflects the university’s longstanding commitment to wide access to educational opportunities,” said Michael Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement. “We have always believed that excluding students from admission conflicts with our institutional values and principles. It is now clear, after further consultation and deliberation, that we can adopt a less restrictive policy.”
Some UMass students expressed anger with the policy, which they told our sister station WWLP was a form of profiling. The story achieved national attention on Wednesday morning, when NBC News’ Pete Williams reported on it during the Today Show.
The University says it had instituted the policy as a result of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, which required that the State Department deny visas to Iranian students looking to pursue fields related to science that pertains to the nuclear sector.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.