According to Zahedi, more than 140 “starred students” have recently returned to universities. “Starred students” is the term used by the regime to designate individuals who have been barred from continuing their education because of security files and opposition to the regime. 

“Today, the talks are about those who entered postgraduate Masters and PhD programs but were disqualified because of their affiliation with Monafeqin, Arab people and other opposition groups,” Zahedi said, invoking the derogatory term generally used by regime officials to refer to the PMOI/MEK.

In the past year, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s Supreme Leader, has on several occasions expressed concern over the politicization of Iranian universities, and has warned government officials against contributing to it.

Zahedi said: “The Supreme Leader has strongly emphasized on different occasions, especially during the past year, that the Ministry of Science and universities should not be an arena for political parties.”