AFP: Oxford University on Wednesday defended a decision to set up a scholarship in honour of an Iranian student shot dead during protests which followed Iran's disputed elections, in a move which has enraged Tehran. LONDON (AFP) — Oxford University on Wednesday defended a decision to set up a scholarship in honour of an Iranian student shot dead during protests which followed Iran's disputed elections, in a move which has enraged Tehran.
Iran told the university that dedicating a scholarship to Neda Agha-Soltan was a "politically motivated" campaign that would "undermine your scientific credibility," The Times reported.
Oxford said the decision to award the scholarship was solely a matter for Queen's College, which had taken the decision and has autonomous status within the university structure.
The Provost of Queen's College, Professor Paul Madden, said: "The college is keen to support graduate students, and this scholarship will help Iranian students to study at Oxford, regardless of their financial background.
"Donors make their own decisions, within reason, on how to name scholarships that they fund. In this case, the donor who was instrumental in establishing the scholarship is a British citizen and is well known to the college."
The donor's name has not been revealed.
Agha-Soltan, a 26-year-old philosophy student, became an emblem of the opposition uprising in Iran after her death in June during a protest in Tehran against the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Amateur video of her bleeding to death spread rapidly around the world.
The Iranian Embassy in London claimed in a letter to Oxford that the death was staged by Iran's enemies.
It said the scholarship would "make Oxford at odd (sic) with the rest of the world's academic institutions," according to the paper.
Queen's named the first beneficiary of the award, worth about 4,000 pounds over two years, as Arianne Shahvisi, who is studying the philosophy of physics.
The Times quoted her as saying the award was "particularly meaningful to me, being a young woman of Iranian descent, also studying philosophy."
She offered condolences to Agha-Soltan's family, saying: "I hope that in succeeding in my studies at Oxford I can do justice to the name of their brave and gifted daughter."
Ahmadinejad has called for a probe into Agha-Soltan's death, saying there had been fabricated reports about the incident and "widespread propaganda" by the foreign media.
Diplomatic ties between Britain and Iran, already tense, have deteriorated since the election.