SP speaks out against banning Iranian students from attending Technical Universities

30 December 2007

SP speaks out against banning Iranian students from attending Technical Universities

SP Members of Parliament Harry van Bommel and Renske Leijten today presented the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Education with parliamentary questions regarding the refusal of Technical Universities (TUs) in the Netherlands to continue to accept Iranians either as students or as staff. The move by the TUs followed a demand from the national Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) for guarantees that Iranians working or studying in universities would not have access to information on nuclear technologies.

In the opinion of the SP, this measure will not prove an effective instrument in the struggle to combat the spread of know-how regarding the production of atomic weapons. “The elementary information on nuclear technology available at a Technical University can easily be found elsewhere,” Van Bommel pointed out. “Our TUs don’t offer practical courses such as ‘How to Make an Atom Bomb 101’.” The measure is, moreover, discriminatory, when other foreign students, including those, for example, from other parts of the Middle East, can continue to study at the TUs as normal. The University of Twente has even excluded students who had already been awarded financial support. The same University’s board had also decided that it would, for the time being, not take on Iranians as employees.

Van Bommel and Leijten want the two Ministers to tell them just what was the constitutional basis of the IND’s demand, and how the matter is being approached in other EU member states. The MPs have also asked whether it is reasonable for Iranians to be excluded, as they now in practice are, from any and every form of study at Dutch TUs.

“This is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” said Leijten. “You surely can’t justify stopping people from studying building because work is being done at the same university involving nuclear know-how.”

Saying that measure against students and scientific workers from Iran had descended to the level of a witch-hunt, the two Members also expressed the fear that it would stigmatise other Iranians currently studying in the Netherlands.

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