A Yale University graduate student from Iran was denied admission to the University of Massachusetts after UMass implemented a policy barring Iranian students from studying in certain engineering and science programs, he told the New Haven Register.
Sina Rostami studies physics at Yale as a visiting researcher through the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden, where he is getting his master’s degree. Rostami had applied to a doctoral program at UMass when he was notified earlier this month that his application was denied due to a federal law “which excludes citizens of Iran from education in the United States if they plan to focus on nuclear and, more broadly, energy related research in Iran.”
“I’m in the department of Physics, though my research is purely in cosmology,” Rostami wrote in an email to Business Insider. “I’ve applied to the Physics department of UMass and my research interest was in theoretical astrophysics.”
UMass announced Wednesday that it’s reversing its policy barring Iranian graduate students, which it had defended by citing the “Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012,” as explained on its website. The university told the Boston Globe it’s ditching the policy after consulting with the State Department.
It’s unclear what affect this will have on Iranian students like Rostami who were already were rejected due to their nationality. We have reached out to UMass for clarification about the status of Iranian students previously barred under the now-changed policy.
As the Register reports, while his astronomy work does overlap with physics, “Rostami’s research is focused on something more theoretical than the fields in which UMass bars Iranian students.” According to the newspaper, Rostami said that his research — which focuses on supernovae and the nature of dark energy — “is not connected to anything the US government would be concerned with.”
Much of the criticism surrounding the UMass policy had to do with what many perceive to be a flawed interpretation of the law by the university. Rather than universities taking it upon themselves to bar Iranian students, the Act has traditionally been enforced by government agencies that issue visas.
UMass had said it’s not the only US university with this policy, although other schools may not make it public.
“If this is true, it should be investigated in what scale Iranian nationals are being effected by similar laws,” Rostami told Business Insider. “People in US should be informed that cutting off Iranian citizens from their diverse society will reduce the cultural and social interaction between the two nations.”
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