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US-Iran academic partnership: Testing the waters

Starting what could be a new chapter in the diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran, a delegation of senior US higher education officials made a historic visit to the Middle Eastern country in the first days of June. Led by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the delegation held a series of high-level talks with their counterparts from 13 Iranian universities and research institutes, as well as with representatives from the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. The aim of these meetings was to open a new chapter in educational relations between the two nations, characterised by an expanded educational cooperation and a richer academic experience for students, faculty and staff from both nations. Following the visit, the IIE announced on 18 June a new IIE Iran Higher Education Initiative, to reopen and expand educational and scientific dialogue between Iran and the US.
The Iran Higher Education Initiative will kick off with a series of activities over the course of the next year, including research on opportunities for developing university partnerships (results to be published in July), workshops for university administrators, and activities aimed at increasing exchanges of students and faculty members. Potential for future academic engagement between the two nations includes double degree programs at the Master’s and PhD levels, short term study abroad programs for U.S. students and faculty exchanges. Although Iran is the twelfth leading country to send students to the US, there appears to be no American higher education students currently studying in Iran, according to The potential for increased academic cooperation between the two nations is evident. And with international negotiations about Iran’s nuclear programme still ongoing, we can only hope that this first tentative development of friendlier relations with the US heralds a peaceful resolution to the present tensions.