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Iran To Restrict Number Of Students Going To U.S., Britain

Iranian students will face new restrictions in studying abroad
Iranian Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi has announced that new restrictions will be applied on students seeking to study in Britain and the United States, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Dastjerdi said on August 3 that since those two countries are hostile toward Iran and have only "limited relations" with Tehran, Iranian college students should go to other countries for their studies.

He did not specify what kind of restrictions would be imposed, but said they would reduce the number of students going to the United States and Britain.

U.S.-based analyst Reza Fani Yazdi told RFE/RL the Iranian government has been disseminating anti-American and anti-British propaganda for the past 30 years.

"Now it seems that the authorities' main concern is that if Iranians travel to those countries, they may acquire a different view which contradicts that of the regime," he said.

Dastjerdi said one of the reasons for the new restrictions is that "Iranian students may be under threat" in the United States and Britain.

Yazdi, however, said the new restrictions are probably related to the role those two countries have played in having new international economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

The United States and several other countries have recently intensified economic sanctions against Iran. The Iranian government has dismissed the sanctions as having no effect on the economy or the nuclear program.

"If political confrontations between Iran and other countries impact its academic and cultural relations with them, a cultural wall will soon separate Iranian students from the world," Yazdi told RFE/RL.

Of the 76 Iranian institutions approved by Iran's Education Ministry, 22 of them have students in Britain and the United States.

According to the Institute for International Education, there were 3,060 Iranians studying at universities in the United States during the 2007-08 school year.