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: January 15, 2024

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Shahid Beheshti University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 15, 2024, Shahid Beheshti University announced a new admissions policy that limits educational opportunities for students who have prior disciplinary convictions.

The new policy states that students who have received disciplinary convictions from either the University’s internal disciplinary council or the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology are ineligible to pursue higher education through the “exceptional talents program.” Moreover, the policy states that admission to postgraduate studies for some students is henceforth contingent on receiving approval from university security.

The policy has been viewed as an attempt to discourage students from participating in ongoing and widespread demonstrations and opposition to the compulsory hijab in Iranian universities, triggered by the “Women, Life, Freedom” uprising of September 2022.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by a university adopting a new policy apparently intended to penalize students for exercising their the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and which gives nonacademic personnel a voice in admissions decisions. While university authorities have a right to make their own admissions decisions, they have an obligation to adhere to university values and relevant human rights principles, including equitable access and the right to education. Discrimination on the basis of political expression harms both individual applicants and the institution more broadly.