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U.S. university backtracks on excluding Iranian engineering students

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. state university said on Wednesday it had reversed a decision to stop admitting Iranian students into its science and engineering programs after consulting with State Department officials and its own attorneys.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst early this month said it would stop admitting Iranian students into those programs, out of fears that doing so would put it at risk of violating a 2012 U.S. law prohibiting Iranians from studying science related to nuclear power or energy research at U.S. colleges.

"We have always believed that excluding students from admission conflicts with our institutional values and principles," said Michael Malone, the university's vice chancellor for research and engagement. "It is now clear, after further consultation and deliberation, that we can adopt a less restrictive policy."

The school said it would develop "individualized study plans" for Iranian students to ensure it did not violate U.S. laws.

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The university, located about 90 miles (145 km) west of Boston, has some 28,600 undergraduate and graduate students.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)