Students on the campus of UMass Amherst.
Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty

UMass Amherst ends ban on Iranians in science, engineering


The University of Massachusetts Amherst is making an embarrassing mea culpa Wednesday after reports surfaced that the school was banning Iranian nationals from some of its graduate science and engineering programs.

In a statement released Wednesday, they assured the public that the school would be reversing its policies after consulting with the State Department and other outside sources.

MSNBC Live with José Díaz-Balart, 2/18/15, 10:17 AM ET

College bans Iranian nationals from some classes

NBC’s Pete Williams reports on the growing backlash over a new policy at U-Mass Amherst which bans Iranian nationals from some engineering and science courses.

“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.”

The change at UMass Amherst came after a wave of widespread criticism and accusations of racial and religion discrimination. Many critics coalesced behind a Facebook page called #WeAreAllUMass, which drew thousands of followers.

PREVIOUSLY: UMass bans Iranian nationals from science classes, stirs backlash

The school had previously claimed that they had no choice on the ban because of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, a federal law passed in 2012. They had previously said in a statement: “We recognize that our adherence to federal law may create difficulties for our students from Iran and regard this as unfortunate.”

Higher Education

UMass Amherst ends ban on Iranians in science, engineering