Conestoga news

August 24, 2022 3:25 PM

Student refugee program welcomes first students

Conestoga has partnered with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) to sponsor refugee youths pursuing post-secondary education in Canada. 

WUSC Student Refugee Program (SRP) is a unique sponsorship program that combines higher education opportunities with protection and permanent resettlement for refugee youth. Students are sponsored through a campus-based committee that leads a full year of financial, social, academic, and health and wellness support.

“We are excited to have partnered with WUSC to lead a student refugee program at Conestoga,” said Jillian Grant, executive and special projects assistant to International Education at the college. “Education can be vital to successful resettlement and integration. This initiative provides equitable and quality education while facilitating access to safety.”

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that an unprecedented 100 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide due to conflict, persecution, human rights violations and violence. Refugees face significant barriers to quality education at every level, limiting life-long learning and opportunities to build resilience and contribute to civil society. UNHCR has called on the global higher education sector to open and expand opportunities to assist in refugee protection and create conditions for inclusion that equip youth with the knowledge, skills and experiences needed to build brighter futures for themselves and their families.

Since 1978, SRP has supported more than 2,200 refugees to resettle in Canada and continue their education. The program operates through Canada’s private refugee program, enabling campus groups to work with WUSC to sponsor refugees to their institution in cooperation with international agencies and the Canadian government.   

Earlier this month, Conestoga welcomed its first refugee student, originally from Somalia. The college is expected to welcome a second student later this fall. The initiative is supported by a cross-departmental committee, including International Education, Student Affairs, Student Engagement, Ancillary Services, Development, Office of the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Conestoga Students Inc., to aid in a successful transition to life in Canada and the Conestoga community.

For more information or to get involved, contact Jillian Grant