Four months after banning Iranian students from certain graduate programs, UMass announces new measures to ensure compliance with U.S. law

By Anthony Rentsch

(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

The University of Massachusetts instituted new measures this week intended to educate the campus on compliance with federal laws concerning visa issuance and research in the long term wake of its controversial decision to stop admitting Iranian students into certain graduate science and technology programs in February.

UMass later revised its decision to ban Iranian national students, announcing that it would continue to admit them so long as they created individualized study plans to meet Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 standards.

The University said in a news release that it would continue to accept international students so long as they are able to obtain visas, and would not restrict or monitor coursework for international students. However, some capstone and independent study projects, regardless of the student’s nationality, may be subject to review on an individual basis, the release stated.

Under the new measures, students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs will be required to write a brief research statement – and get it signed by an adviser – prior to leaving the country. University spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said the statement would make students’ visa renewal process more fluid, as many of the questions students will be asked during the process will be answered in the statement.

“It will help them reenter country more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

The new measures also call for faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students funded by sponsored research in a select few disciplines to receive an annual training certification in export control laws through the University of Miami’s Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative.

Currently, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and industrial engineering, physics, chemistry, and microbiology are the only fields subjected to the CITI training, as Blaguszewski called them “areas of risk” under export control laws.

Export control laws “regulate and restrict the release of critical technologies, technical data, software code, equipment, chemical and biological materials, and other materials, and information and services to foreign nationals and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security,” according to the University’s website.

Blaguszewski said the list of programs required to undergo the CITI training could become longer over the course of next year.

Additional information about federal regulations will be posted on the University’s website. Faculty and staff will also receive annual memos with information about export control laws.

Tuesday’s announcement is the result of a report made by a 15-member student and faculty advisory panel established in February to create an admissions policy for Iranian students.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.