(CNN) — Iranian student Puyan Mahmudian scored the sixth highest marks in his year group in his entrance exam, but was rejected for a Masters degree in chemical engineering at Amirkabir University in Tehran.
The problem was not his academic record, but his political background, according to human rights groups, which note that Mahmudian had previously been jailed for being editor of a student magazine that was critical of the government.
Mahmudian, now 25, believes he is one of hundreds of so-called “starred students,” whom campaigners claim are denied access to university or expelled because of their religious or political beliefs.
A report called “Punishing Stars” by the non-governmental organization International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran names 217 students who it says have been deprived of education because of their religion or political activism in the last five years. It says the real number is much higher as many did not want to be named.