UMass reverses ban, will admit Iranians to graduate programs

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2015 4:53 PM

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — The University of Massachusetts at Amherst said Wednesday that it has reversed its decision to ban Iranian nationals from admission to certain graduate programs in engineering and science.

The announcement comes on the heels of the university's controversial decision last week to bar Iranian students. Officials said then that the move aligned school policy with U.S. sanctions against Iran but said Wednesday it has since consulted further with the State Department and private attorneys.

"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," said Michael Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement.

The university said it will develop individualized study plans based on a student's projected coursework to meet the requirements of federal sanctions law.

Congress enacted legislation in August 2012 that denies visas for Iranian citizens to study in the U.S. if they plan to participate in coursework for a career in the energy or nuclear fields in Iran.

"We had a conversation with UMass Amherst about their decision," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. "And also conveyed that U.S. law does not prohibit qualified Iranian nationals coming to the United States for education in science and engineering."