Spies, all Spies
First off, we've got people ranging from their mid-to-late 20s, up to their 50s. They come for a variety of reasons--business, university, diplomatic engagements, to learn Farsi, development efforts, and more. Students from S. Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, U.S., U.K., Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Amsterdam, Poland, Germany, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukbekistan, India, and many more countries attend Farsi lessons here.
There's that group of kids, one of which says he's an anthropologist, who're in Iran on a grant from their government--they all happen to speak Farsi quite well, and are enrolled in the advanced/literature courses; then there's that older mysterious man dressed in a suit everyday, and always carrying a suitcase, who speaks all the critical languages--English, French, Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi--enrolled in the institute's art and literature courses; and what about that trio of men, all with families back home, who first claimed they were here to learn Farsi for the purpose of working in their country's embassy, but now insist they came mainly out of appreciation for the language and the historical sites of Iran? These guys also happen to hold high military ranks, which they accidentally told me during a class discussion.
And finally, there are those two men attempting to learn Farsi, after returning from missions sponsored by their government's sports ministry to help form soccer teams in the Farsi-speaking states of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Yea, I'm sure that's what Afghanistan and Tajikistan really need right now, soccer. Why are these soccer players here learning Farsi? Because they plan to head over to Bam (site of the massive earthquake two years ago) to aid in the reconstruction efforts. Well, they may not be able to do this, considering an Iranian official announced this week that the international NGOs stationed in Bam have been found to be engaged in missionary activities and espionage, rather than in reconstruction efforts, and will be kicked out, accordingly.
Of course, it's to be expected that spies from all over the world would be here trying to gather intelligence. But as my teacher said, "The Ministry of Intelligence is so strong, that if a foreigner takes a sip of water, they'll know about it." I think spies in Iran would be ineffective, anyway, because it's perplexing enough to get information for Iranians themselves, let alone foreigners. Bureaucracy owns about 70% of the economy, so inefficiency is a major issue, hence the difficulty of getting answers to your questions.