Reinventing Academic Ties: Opportunities for U.S.-Iran Higher Education Cooperation (2015)

The warming of diplomatic relations with Iran marks the beginning of a new era of potential cooperation between higher education institutions in the United States and Iran. After decades of limited academic ties, institutions in both countries are eager to renew relationships and initiate new ones. The Institute of International Education is supporting increased U.S.-Iran academic cooperation by launching the IIE Iran Higher Education Initiative, which includes this white paper, a series of national conference calls, workshops, and a delegation to Iran in June 2015. This briefing paper provides an overview of the potential areas where institutions in the United States and Iran might initiate new linkages and includes an FAQ section on current OFAC regulations*. Other key areas covered in this white paper include:

  • A Snapshot of Iranian Higher Education
  • The Current State of U.S.-Iran Academic Exchange
  • Potential Areas for New Academic Relations
  • Rules and Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions about the Impact on U.S. Educational Institutions of U.S. Sanctions and Export Controls

This white paper also includes a number of helpful appendices, such as a sample memorandum of understanding from an Iranian university and brief profiles of Iranian institutions. This paper seeks to encourage more U.S. higher education institutions to explore and expand academic relationships with Iranian counterparts by providing timely, first-hand information about exchange opportunities, current scholarship programs, effective partnership models, and specific disciplines that would be particularly promising for U.S.-Iran academic cooperation.

*The OFAC FAQ section of this paper was prepared by Nicholas Townsend, Counsel in Arnold & Porter LLP’s National Security and Public Policy practices.

Nicholas Townsend is a Counsel in Arnold & Porter LLP’s National Security and Public Policy practices. Mr. Townsend’s national security expertise is in international trade sanctions, U.S. export controls, and cybersecurity. He advises U.S. and foreign companies and educational institutions on compliance with US and international financial sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan. Contact:

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