The University of Tabriz in northwestern Iran has expelled Kurdish doctoral student Soran Daneshvar at the request of the Ministry of Intelligence.

Daneshvar is a Kurdish activist who began his PhD studies in Philosophy in late September.

In mid-November, with the new Ministry of Science, Research and Technology taking office and the appointment of the new rector of the University of Tabriz, the PhD student was informed that he had been expelled from the university at the request of the office of deputy chair of the selection board of the country’s Evaluation Department.

A selection procedure (known as Gozinesh in Persian) is usually carried out for state officials and employees in Iran by selection boards linked to the intelligence units, requiring them to demonstrate their allegiance to the Islamic Republic of Iran. This procedure creates discrimination and prohibits religious and ethnic minorities from participating in civil life.

A source spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and said: “After Soran Daneshvar followed up his case, the office of the deputy chair of the selection board informed him that the Ministry of Intelligence had opposed him continuing his education and requested his dismissal.”

This Kurdish civil rights activist was deprived of continuing his education in 2011 and 2020, despite passing the entrance exams for masters and doctoral programmes. He was banned due to being a “starred student”.

“Starred students” in Iran are barred from enrolling in higher education institutions due to their student, civil rights, or political activities.

Due to the obstruction of the Ministry of Intelligence, his acceptance letter for the master’s degree entrance exam was not issued. He was not even notified of his admission to the university. And despite many follow-ups at the time, he was unable to continue his studies.

In 2018, after passing the master’s degree entrance exam for the second time in the field of philosophy, the Evaluation Department took a written commitment from him and conditionally allowed him to continue his studies.

In 2020, Daneshvar was passed the doctoral entrance exam, and for the second time, his acceptance letter was not issued due to being a “starred student”.

But with much follow-up, he was finally given conditional permission to continue his education after a written commitment.