Harvard University has reversed course and will extend a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, after the US academic institution faced a barrage of criticism for blocking the offer.

The Nation news magazine reported earlier this month that the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, which studies public policy and government, vetoed plans to offer a fellowship to Roth, who led Human Rights Watch (HRW) for nearly three decades.

The veto reportedly came as a result of the group’s criticism of Israel. The Nation said the dean, Doug Elmendorf, allegedly cited an “anti-Israel bias” and Roth’s tweets on Israel in his decision to block the fellowship.

The move prompted an outpouring of condemnation from students, academics and rights activists, including Roth, who described it as an affront to academic freedom and a “sorry episode” for Harvard.