As US and EU sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear programme continue to escalate, an increasing number of Iranians studying abroad are finding themselves in the firing line. Bank accounts have been frozen, student loans denied and university applications rejected.
Until recently, Yasamin studied electrical engineering in Leeds. She was accepted into a PhD programme, but with the sharp drop in the value of the rial her family could no longer afford to support her, she said. Yasamin’s hopes of pursuing her doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, were also dashed when she was unable to demonstrate that she had $26,000 (£16,700) in the bank. Her savings amount to half of that in today’s currency. So instead of completing her education, she is biding her time in Tehran, hoping for a job offer in Europe. Like others interviewed for this article, she asked to be identified only by her first name.
Reza, 22, who is studying medicine in Hungary, faces similar problems. „When I came here, the toman was 1,000 to a dollar, now it’s 4,000,“ he said. (One toman is 10 rials.) Because of sanctions it is virtually impossible to carry out international bank transfers from Iran, leaving many students in Europe to go back home to fetch the money they need for university. At least once a year Reza carries $20,000 (£12,650) in cash from Iran to Europe, of which $15,000 goes to pay his tuition. This far exceeds the $5,000 legal limit one is allowed to take out of Iran. „I go there and hide the money in my underwear,“ Reza said. „Really!“ Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags