Immigration officials here said yesterday they will begin questioning officials of colleges and universities in Washington and Virginia to determine how many Iranian students failed to report to them as required by the Dec. 31 deadline.

As many as 600 Iranian students in the Washington-Virginia area may have failed to report, according to Kellogg Whittick, director of The Immigration and Naturalization Service's Washington office.

"We have received a wire [from the service's national headquarters] which said we have to issue show cause orders to those students who failed to report," said Whittick yesterday. But Whittick said that it would be some time before his office knows how many individuals failed to report.

"If they did not report to us we do not know they're there," he said. "But our Estimates are that there are about 2,500 Iranian students in the Washington-Virginia area." He said 1,908 had reported.

In Maryland, an official of the Baltimore regional INS office estimated that about 200 Iranian students failed to report by the deadline.

"We had 1,067 report," F. Alfred Petersam, deputy district director, said yesterday. "We do have some records that indicate that some students . . . did not report. We're going to invite them in to talk about it. They're technically in violation of their [student] status."

Petersam said his office has no plans as yet to begin cross-checking with Maryland colleges and universities to determine just how many Iranian students are enrolled.

According to Whittick, because some Washington and Virginia institutions of higher learning initially balked at assisting immigration investigators track drown Iranian students -- citing the student's rights to privacy -- his office concentrated on simply interviewing those students who reported.

But in the wake of last Thursday's Court of Appeals decision upholding President Carter's November order to crack down on Iranian students who are in violation of their student visa requirements, Whittick said he now feels he has the authority to obtain some of the information his office needs to determine who is in this country legally.

"Many of these students [who failed to report] are transfer students who transferred without permission," said Whittick. "We just don't know how many there are. Now we have the decision by the courts so we feel that we can" question college and university officials.

Whittick said that as many as 163 of the 1,908 students who reported to his investigators may eventually be found in violation of their student visas. Petersam said that 88 Iranian students out of the 1,067 who reported in Maryland were found to be in violation.

Those who failed to report will be issued show cause orders requiring them to explain why they failed to comply. If the explanation is unsatisfactory, they will be declared deportable, Whittick said.