Iranian students are no longer welcome in some science and engineering programs at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Saying the decision adheres to US sanctions against Iran, the school has instituted a ban on Iranian entrants to the programs, the AP reports. A 2012 federal law prevents Iranians aiming for careers in energy or nuclear sciences from getting visas to study in the US, the AP notes, but that doesn't mean Iranian nationals can't study science or engineering here, a State Department official says, noting that decisions are made on an individual basis. The National Iranian American Council has criticized the move and called on UMass to "immediately reverse this harmful, discriminatory, and unnecessary action."
A group of UMass students has set up a Facebook page to oppose the policy, which they call "unique … among all higher education institutions," though the Iranian American Council suggests that Virginia Commonwealth University has a similarly worded policy, MassLive reports. As for the 2012 law, the students say that's for the departments of State and Homeland Security to enforce, but "this educational institution is taking upon itself to be a law enforcer." A university official says his colleagues didn't want to institute the policy, but did so for transparency reasons. One Iranian student, he notes, was unable to return to the US after a trip home because of the field he was working in. "We wanted to be transparent about what we're doing. We don't want them to come here and be disappointed."