According to an August 16 report by the state-run IRNA news agency, these MPs’ main concerns were the “return of Starred Students, appointments and dismissals in the Ministry of Science, appointing some university presidents, concerns over the politicization of the university and its impact on the scientific growth of the country, and also rent disclosure regarding some PhD student scholarships.”

Nasser Mousavi Largany, Member of Parliament, emphasized that one necessary condition for withdrawal of the impeachment act would be the re-expulsion of the Starred Students who had returned to universities. He added that persons who are associated with the protesters in 2009 uprising should be excluded from managerial positions. 

“Starred Students” are individuals who have been barred from continuing their education, often due to political activities, but sometimes also because of ethnicity or religious beliefs. According to IRNA, “Some Members of Parliament say some of the expelled students who returned to universities are of Baha’i faith. They stress that the reason for expelling these Starred Students was not the students’ political activity.”

According to the reports, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, former Minister of Science, Research and Technology, has admitted that decisions on Starred Students were made by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution and the Intelligence Ministry. He acknowledged that certain students have been penalized for alleged misconduct and said, “Starred Students who had disciplinary problems or misconduct cited in their files should be careful not to repeat it; otherwise they will be in trouble.”

In the past few years, many students have been summoned to university disciplinary committees and accused of misconduct or committing acts against national security. Some 150 students were starred during Ahmadinejad’s administration. Accordingly, some undergraduate students were penalized for openly criticizing the government. They were given one to three penalty points according to the threat they allegedly posed to the regime. Those who applied for Masters’ Degree were forced to register under pre-set conditions that allowed university officials to expel the students at any time. These Starred Students are still persecuted and harassed under the so-called moderate presidency of Rouhani. Some students have been marked “Three-Starred” and suspended or even expelled for criticizing the regime. They are still barred from the universities by the Rouhani’s government, which promised to restore “joy and peace” in the public universities.