Iranians protest against discrimination
Mahdi Ghane, Hamideh Kaffash, Babak Khalaghi and Narjes Jafariesfad are among the Iranian PhD candidates at NTNU, whom have been asked to leave the country.
Ghane had to go back to Iran, while Kaffash, Khalaghi and Jafariesfad have appealed UDIs decision with help from the university.
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Illegal tehcnology transfer
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) handles the applications. A regulation in Norwegian law forbids illegal technology transfer. This has been the explanation for numerous visa denials for Iranian scholars in Norway.
The Police Security Service (PST) states that it has registered an increasing interest from state-controlled Iranian companies to establish contact with the Norwegian petroleum sector. According to PSTs annual threat assessment for 2014, there is international concern that non-state players are attempting to acquire the capacity to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear substances for terrorist attacks.
PST: - High number of Iranian applicants
The number of Iranian applicants to Norwegian higher education and research institutions is high compared with the numbers from other non-Western countries, according to the report which also states that these applicants are often interested in technological and other subjects that are relevant to the development of a potential nuclear weapons program.
PST therefore consider it as a high risk that Norwegian educational institutions and high-technology activities will be subject to attempts of illegal transfer of knowledge.
However, several supervisors and professors at NTNU interviewed by Universitetsavisa say that the rejected Iranians have chosen fields of research that has got no relevance to production of mass destruction weapons.
The campaign group ' Stop Educational Discrimination Against Iranians' has gained more than 2600 'likes' on Facebook in a short time. They hold a protest in Trondheim, Stavanger, Oslo, Bergen and Narvik on Thursday.
- A liability for the Norwegian-Iranian relationship
Rector at NTNU, Gunnar Bovim, wrote a letter to UDI in May where he expressed his concern over the processing time for visa applications.
- Norway is losing the battle for the best candidates against countries with more effective visa processing time, Bovim says.
At least ten PhD candidates and students at NTNU have come to Norway with a granted ‘early work start’ visa, only to have their work permit application rejected after several months.
Norwegian Iran expert Sverre Lodgaard says PST's attitude towards Iranian researchers has become a liability for the Norwegian-Iranian relationship.
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