SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 08, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Azad University of Tehran

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 8, 2023, Azad University of Tehran, North Branch expelled Shahriyar Shams from his undergraduate studies in apparent retaliation for his participation in the “Women, Life, and Freedom” protests.

On June 8, Shams announced that Azad University’s disciplinary committee had decided to expel him without any explanation. He stated that he would appeal the decision. At the time of his expulsion, Shams, a student activist, was awaiting two trials related to his participation in the ongoing protest. State security forces had arrested Shams the previous year, on September 29, 2022 (see report) and November 4 (see report).

Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university expelling a student for his alleged participation in student protests. Higher education authorities should refrain from such disciplinary actions and respect students’ exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish organized student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.