The inspiring response to the global refugee crisis from Canadian universities, colleges and cegeps

For over 35 years, our Student Refugee Program (SRP) and its partners have been responding to the needs of disadvantaged and displaced youth around the world. Our partner universities, colleges and cegeps support the program by providing knowledgeable and skilled young students with a safe space to learn and achieve their educational goals. Our student-led Local Committees engage in active fundraising for the program on their campuses and provide SRP students with the social support required to adjust to life in Canada.

This year, with the help of our 65 current campus partners, we have placed 86 refugee students to campuses across the country. Ten of our students this year are from Syria.

Over the last couple of weeks, this vast network of academic partners, student volunteers, and faculty and staff advisors have played a critical role in helping us increase our support to refugee youth during this time of urgent need. In partnership with Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada, we reached out to over 200 post-secondary academic institutions across the country to challenge them to implement or increase their support of the Student Refugee Program on their campus. Thanks to the commitment of students, faculty and staff at these institutions, the response has been - simply put - tremendous.

In just one week, over twenty-five institutions have reached out to us to learn more about how they can increase their support to the Student Refugee Program. Some of these institutions have been partnering with WUSC since the program began in 1978. Others are brand new partners looking to create a Local Committee on their campus for the very first time. Some of these institutions are coming to us already equipped with tangible solutions for how they can further respond to the crisis - reflecting ongoing and comprehensive internal meetings that are already being held on campuses across the country.

In particular, we are pleased to announce the following public commitments from Canadian post-secondary academic institutions in support of Syrian refugees and the Student Refugee Program.

Algoma University

Algoma University has committed to accepting two additional Syrian students through the SRP for as early as January 2016. A strong supporter of the program for the last ten years, Algoma University has already provided life-changing opportunities to ten refugees since partnering with the program. For more information, please visit:

Bishop's University and Champlain Regional College

Bishop's University and Champlain Regional College have committed to sponsoring two Syrian students in addition to the two students we are presently sponsoring. Our two small schools which share a campus will provide the usual level of support which includes waiving tuition, providing free rooms in residence and meal plans. Our local committee has been in operation for twenty three years and in that time has sponsored 37 students. We are ready and excited to welcome these new students in January 2016.

Carleton University

Carleton University has launched a campus-wide fundraising campaign to increase their support of the Student Refugee Program for as early as January 2016. The Carleton community was quick to show their support of this initiative - helping to surpass the target of $12,500 within the first five days. Our very first partner for the SRP, Carleton University has supported dozens of student refugees to continue their post-secondary studies in Canada. For more information, please visit:

Dalhousie University

Through the launch of a 40-day crowdfunding campaign, Dalhousie University has created the Dalhousie Student Refugee Fund (DalSRF) to support additional refugee students through WUSC’s Student Refugee Program. In addition, the University has committed to matching every dollar raised by the campaign. In creating the DalSRF and encouraging increased volunteer efforts throughout the community, Dalhousie University is building on a range of existing supports to refugees. For more information, please visit:

Laurentian University

Students with the WUSC Local Committee on campus have launched ambitious fundraising activities to support two Syrian student refugees through the Student Refugee Program next year. Looking to mobilize beyond just their campus, the students plan to take their fundraising efforts to the broader Greater Sudbury community. More than 20 refugee students have been sponsored to attend Laurentian University through the program since it began in 1978. Laurentian supports the Student Refugee Program on campus by providing tuition, acommodation and meals for the students' first year of study. Those wishing to support the Syrian students at Laurentian can contribute at: For more information, please visit:

McGill University

McGill University and its student-led WUSC Local Committee have mobilized to triple their support for the 2016/2017 academic year to accept four additional students through the program. McGill University has been a partner of the Student Refugee Program for several years and has already sponsored over thirty students to continue their post-secondary education in Canada. For more information, please visit

McMaster University

McMaster University and the McMaster Students Union have launched a joint partnership to help support more refugees through the Student Refugee Program. Significant interest from from faculty, staff and students lead the University to increase its commitment to nearly $100,000 per year. With a focus on Syrian refugees, the additional funds will provide more refugee students with the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education and rebuild their lives in Canada. For more information, please visit:

Queen's University

Queen's University announced the creation of five new student awards that will provide additional opportunities for refugees from Syria to attend university in Canada. The Syrian Refugee Opportunity Awards will include tuition and living expenses for students starting any first-year undergraduate degree program or any master's level program at Queen’s beginning next fall. Recruited through WUSC's Student Refugee Program, this remarkable commitment from Queen's faculty, staff and students reflects their long-standing support to improving the lives of refugee youth. For more information, please visit:

Trent University

Trent University announced they will be increasing their commitment to refugee students. Trent has been sponsoring one student per year through the WUSC SRP since 1983. The University announced plans to double that commitment through fundraising, volunteer dedication, and in-kind contributions. A true reflection of the deep commitment of the Trent University community, leadership at the University kicked off the campaign with close to $7,000. For more information, please visit:

University of Alberta

The University of Alberta announced the creation of ten new financial awards that will be available for Syrian refugees beginning as early as January 2016. Renewable for up to four years, depending on their program of studies, these awards will play a key role in supporting young Syrian students to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. For more information, please visit:

University of Guelph

University of Guelph has begun fundraising plans to support two more Syrian refugee students through the Student Refugee Program as early as January 2016. For several years, the University of Guelph has worked closely with WUSC to bring two to three student refugees to their campus each year. For more information, please visit: 

University of Northern British Columbia

The University of Northern British Columbia has partnered with the Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS) to offer full sponsorship for five Syrian refugees. For 10 years, the NUGSS has worked with WUSC to support seven refugee students. This significant increase in support is made possible through the Area of Greatest Need fund, a unique fund to support innovative opportunities for students. For more information, please visit:

University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa has committed $200,000 and will seek donations to match that amount, making for a total of $400,000 in new funds to help refugees from Syria and other countries. The University of Ottawa has been a partner of WUSC’s through the Student Refugee Program since the early eighties and has sponsored dozens of refugee students to come to Canada and study on their campus over the years. Members of the University of Ottawa community have the option of supporting a variety of programs to help refugees, including the Student Refugee Program. For more information, please visit:

University of Regina

University of Regina has pledged to match their pre-existing student levy, dollar for dollar. This will double the funds available to sponsor and support SRP students, enabling the school to accept a total of 6 students per academic year.The University of Regina was among the first partners of the SRP, joining the program in 1979. Since then, we have sponsored 60 refugee students to come to Canada and improve their lives through education. For more information, please visit:

University of Victoria 

University of Victoria has pledged to double their commitment to the SRP over the next three years, in addition to providing other important support to the local refugee community. This will enable up to eight students from Syria and other conflict-affected regions to continue their post-secondary studies at the University of Victoria each year. The Division of Continuing Studies will also dedicate $25,000, plus in-kind assistance, to support English language and job-skills training for refugees in Greater Victoria. In addition, the University of Victoria will contribute up to $50,000 into a dollar-for-dollar matching fund to which members of the community can make donations to add their support to the university’s initiatives. For more information, please visit:

Vancouver Island University

Vancouver Island University has brought faculty, staff and students together to create a new fund that will support more Syrian refugees and increase support to the Student Refugee Program. The Vancouver Island University Faculty Association has kicked off efforts with a remarkable $10,000 contribution. All donations will be matched by 50 cents on the dollar by the University. For more information, please visit:

Western University

Western University has announced a comprehensive plan to respond to the global refugee crisis, including the creation of ten new financial awards for Syrian refugee students. These awards will cover tuition and living costs, and will be available as early as January 2016. Western has also created a Refugee Sponsorship Fund that will sponsor a Syrian refugee family to London, Ontario and is currently working with the Scholars at Risk program to identify Syrian scholars that could be brought to the university. For more information, please visit:

Yukon College

Yukon College, a new partner of the Student Refugee Program, has committed to sponsoring one refugee student for the upcoming academic year. Spearheaded in part by a WUSC alumni, the newly established Local Committee are undertaking impressive fundraising activities while working hard to establish a network of support that will assist the refugee student in adjusting to life on campus and in Canada once they arrive. For more information, please visit:

We are encouraged by this incredible response and inspired by the dedication of students, faculty and staff across the country who have played a key role in expanding our support to young refugees. Our partners know, from decades of experience, the value of supporting refugee youth. Year after year, they witness the resiliency and perseverance that make our SRP students stand out. As strong leaders on their campuses and in their communities, these students often go on to make significant contributions both in Canada and overseas.

This increase of support to the Student Refugee Program will not only benefit young refugees and their families, but also further enhance Canadians’ awareness and understanding of pressing global issues, enabling us to collectively build better solutions together. We invite those who have not yet reached out to join us in our efforts and improve the lives of refugee youth through education.


Has your institution made a public commitment to increase support to the Student Refugee Program? Please let us know! Email Stephanie Needham at to add your institution to the list.