Iranian Students

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    This may come off controversial.. I sincerely don’t mean it to be. But something is bothering me lately and I thought that this board may be as good of a place as any to speak about it…. even if it’s just to get it out there so I don’t feel like I’m crazy for being worried.

    I work at a university (will remain nameless). The department I work for, in the graduate program, is majority international students (Chinese, Indian, Eqyptian, etc.) as are our faculty. In the past year, and especially for the upcoming fall semester, we’ve seen a very significant increase in Iranian applications to our program. When I first started here, we had 2 Iranian students and from what I’ve been told there weren’t many more than that in previous semesters. But this year, the applications coming in have so many Iranian applications that it’s alarming. I thought it was just me (I kept my alarm to myself) until my supervisor (during a discussion we were having) expressed the same observation. We both admitted to it making us a little nervous…. that said…

    Now we have about 4 students I think who are from Iran. We have about 20 who have been accepted for fall admission (though many of them probably won’t come) and the applications are still flooding in. To be fair, our overall application numbers have sky-rocketed no doubt due to the economy both here in the US and abroad. But still… the increase in Iranian applicants makes me wonder… Especially since they have to go through hell to get here. Just us trying to mail them documents is a pain in the neck and involved special shipping and extra cost. Then they have to jump through hoops over there to get their visas, go through numerous checks in the airports, etc.

    Again, to be fair, the Iranian students I’ve worked with since being here are EXTREMELY nice. They are very friendly, not at all what many would think of when you think of Iran in terms of what you see and hear in the news. The ladies seem very “Americanized” and dress “modern”. I was warned when I got this job that men from other countries coming here sometimes have trouble working with ladies in the work-world because that’s not always the norm in some countries. But that hasn’t been my experience thus far. They are very respectful, very friendly and look “normal”. We have 2 male students here who have wives who are now interested in our graduate program and my husband made some comment along the lines of they could be like sleeper cells or something. Of course anything could be a possiblity (the government even recognizes this because for the wives to change their visas to be a student they rarely get approved because there is an issue of “intent”), but let’s just say from my interaction with them, they would have to be ver VERY excellent actors if that were the case. lol.

    Am I right to be concerend? am I right to have become even more focused on my BOB in my car, to make sure that I have more “supplies” in my office, etc.? Or am I just being paranoid and judgeing them on stereotypes? If you knew me personally, you’d know that that isn’t my character or beliefs at all. But I can’t help but admit that I’m very nervous… and even more nervous in regards to how many new Iranian students will actually show up in the fall…..

    I wish that I had statistics from other US graduate programs ot see if their Iranian applications have increased… but I don’t.

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