November 13, 2015 – Two young Syrian refugees will be sponsored as students at Laurentian University next year in a student-led initiative through World University Service Canada (WUSC).
Under the Student Refugee Program, Laurentian University’s WUSC local committee has already sponsored more than twenty refugees since the launch of the initiative in 1978. Some of those students have stayed on to pursue graduate studies after completing their degrees. With the worsening of the Syrian war and the international refugee crisis, WUSC has expanded the scope of its Student Refugee Program and is now working in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), to interview and document candidates for sponsorship.
“We are happy to be stepping up our efforts as a committee to bring two Syrian refugees to Laurentian as sponsored students,” said Willow Mullin-Semeniuk of the WUSC-Laurentian committee. “Like so many other people in Canada and around the world, we want to help by giving some young Syrians a chance for a secure future.”
Laurentian University supports WUSC and the Student Refugee Program by providing tuition, accommodation and meals for the first year of studies. Laurentian students also contribute funds through a levy collected with student association fees. After completing their first year, the sponsored students are eligible to apply for student assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Laurentian’s WUSC committee intends to lead fund-raising efforts across campus and within the broader community of Greater Sudbury to help with the significant resettlement costs associated with the Student Refugee Program. Details as to how groups and individuals can contribute to the local WUSC campaign will be circulated in the weeks ahead.
“This is an excellent program and a superb initiative to bring student living in refugee camps to Canada for post-secondary education,” said Dr. Jorge Virchez, a professor in the Department of Geography and the faculty representative on Laurentian’s WUSC committee. “Our students have shown a strong commitment to global outreach through WUSC, and we are proud of their decision to redouble their efforts in the year ahead.”
The number of Syrian refugees worldwide is projected to reach 4.27 million by the end of 2015.
For more information on WUSC and the Student Refugee Program, go to http://wusc.ca/en/srp