Student Refugee Program

Changing the world through education, one life at a time

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WUSC provides hope and opportunity for student refugees. You can help.

In a refugee camp, there are few resources for young people to further their schooling. Without access to education there are limited options available to youth for a meaningful life.

Our Student Refugee Program has been helping young refugees achieve their dreams for over 35 years, providing hope, resources and access to post-secondary education at Canadian universities, colleges and/or cégeps.

Where does your contribution go?

All fundraising for the SRP goes directly to support the student through training and programs that ensure the success of refugee students both in-camp and once they reach Canada.

Changing the world, one life at a time

To learn more, check out stories from some of the more than 1200 former sponsored students whose lives have changed thanks to generous donations from Canadians like you.

What We're Doing: 

Whether through war or political repression, young men and women are often forced to flee their home country, only to face the harsh conditions of life in a refugee camp. Opportunities for higher education are virtually non-existent, leaving many bright and talented students unable to achieve their academic goals. 

Through a unique youth-to-youth sponsorship, WUSC's Student Refugee Program helps student refugees achieve their educational goals by:  

  • building the capacity of young Canadians to sponsor refugee students to their university, college and/or cégep;
  • providing student refugees with an opportunity to pursue their education at a Canadian university, college and/or cégep, as permanent residents;
  • supporting sponsored students to adapt and succeed in their new environment in Canada.

What We're Learning: 

WUSC has learned that the success of the Student Refugee Program lies in:

1) the contribution of young volunteers: Canadian university, college and cégep students are the driving force behind the SRP. To empower students, WUSC offers relevant and accessible training to student leaders provides guidance and recognizes their valuable contribution.

2) the strength of partnerships: WUSC recognizes the importance of working with partners to create long lasting change. These partners, including Canadian students, universities, colleges, cégeps, the Government of Canada and Québec, local NGOs, individual donors and private foundations, are essential and their contribution ensures the success of the program.

3) the impact of a sustainable approach: WUSC’s presence in refugee camps for over 30 years provides a consistency and hope for refugees. We’ve learned that the SRP helps to motivate students to stay and perform well in school, engage parents to support education, and provides a tangible avenue for refugees to tap into their potential. Through the years, we’ve noticed that males were outnumbering females for sponsorship. As a result, the Shine a Light campaign was created to help girls and young women stay in school, increase their self-confidence and achieve their academic goals.

4) connecting youth: Using the unique model of youth-to-youth sponsorship has allowed students in Canada and in the camps to connect with one another. Sponsored students can be assured they will not only have financial support, but academic and social support during their time at school. The sponsored students in turn teach young Canadians the realities of life in refugee camps, changing their perspective on the world. This motivates students to inform their campus and community of the challenges facing millions of refugee students.


For most refugees, there are few or no opportunities to continue post-secondary education. Since 1978, WUSC's Student Refugee Program (SRP) has helped address this shortage by enabling student refugees to pursue their studies at Canadian universities, colleges and cégeps.

From countries of origin as diverse as Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Burma and Afghanistan, most have successfully completed their studies and are now active Canadian Citizens making valuable contributions to their communities. Others have returned to their home countries and are contributing as nation builders or active community members. 



WUSC's Student Refugee Program is funded through student-led Local Committees, the Trillium Foundation and donors like you. The Student Refugee Program was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Click here to make a donation to the SRP.


Shortlisted for the top 10 Nansen Refugee Award


A 2010 WISE Awards finalist. 



Featured in Citizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus by award-winning journalist and documentarian Debi Goodwin

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