Norway’s leading technical university, NTNU in Trondheim, has asked state immigration agency UDI to reverse its rejection of residence permission for four Iranian doctoral candidates. The students were rejected because Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politets sikkerhetstjeneste) wants to prevent any transfer of sensitive knowledge to the Iranian government.
Newspaper Universitetsavisa reported that three NTNU institutes have appealed the rejections of the doctoral candidates on behalf of each of them, sending letters of complaint to the police and asking UDI to approve their applications for residence after all.
Both PST and the foreign ministry, however, have created a so-called “academic filter” to hinder knowledge exchange with countries subject to sanctions by the United Nations. That includes both Iran and North Korea.
Universitetsavisa reported that as a result, the number of Iranian masters degree students has declined from 49 in 2011 to just nine last year, while those on doctoral stipends have sunk from 39 to three. A PST spokesman said Iranian students seeking advance degrees in technical subjects are especially vulnerable to rejection because even seemingly harmless studies like windmill technology can be used to develop weapons programs.