After Controversy, UMass to Ease Int’l Admissions Policy


The University of Massachusetts has implemented new measures pertaining to international admission of students four months after the institution made the controversial decision to stop the admittance of Iranian students to certain graduate science and technology programs.

According to a memo from Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, the admissions department will no longer discriminate based on ethnicity, nationality or country of origin, adding that faculty members will receive additional training on export control laws once a year.  In addition, he introduced a new guideline which will require any international student interested in pursuing a degree in particular science and technology fields to write a research statement that must then be approved by their advisor prior to traveling internationally.

“UMass is committed to non-discriminatory admissions and to educating every student without discrimination in all areas of the educational process, in the classroom and in every course of study or degree,” Subbaswamy said in a statement this week. “This practice of non-discrimination operates within the laws and regulations that protect the safety and security of the entire campus and that are established in local, state and federal laws, statutes and regulations.”

Iranian students had been banned from certain programs within the institutions’ College of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences this past February in an effort to comply with the federal government’s Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012.  The federal law refused visas to students from Iran who were studying in the United States to aid their home country in energy, nuclear science or engineering, writes Dave Eisenstadter for The GazetteNet.

UMass implemented the policy when student Zahra Khalkhali was not allowed to re-enter the United States in January.  According to Michael Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, the institution was offered legal advice suggesting the school was required to change the students’ status in a federal database in February, which prevented the student from entering the country.

However, according to the memo released in May by Subbaswamy, the US government can still deny any student a visa, but the university itself cannot limit its policy on enrollment.

“UMass is committed to non-discriminatory admissions and to educating every student without discrimination,” Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said.

University officials must notify all international students on an individual basis pertaining to new federal rules that could affect their visas.  All international students will be trained pertaining to their obligations under US sanctions.

While the university will not restrict access to regular coursework for these students, it does maintain the ability to review independent research projects.