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Press Release: Canada paving the way to refugee resettlement with post-secondary scholarships

OTTAWA, March 30, 2016 – A delegation of Canadian government and nongovernment representatives led by the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, is in Geneva this week to attend a high-level meeting on Pathways for Admission of Syrian Refugees, where the unique Canadian private sponsorship model is being highlighted as a durable solution to the global refugee crisis.

The delegation includes Michelle Manks, Manager of WUSC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP), an innovative initiative that empowers students, professors, staff and alumni to combine refugee resettlement with placements at Canadian universities, colleges and cegeps.

“We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for their support and for providing WUSC with the opportunity to share this program on the world stage,” said Chris Eaton, Executive Director of WUSC. “Opportunities for higher education are few and far between for refugees, but such opportunities can play a pivotal role in advancing resettlement and integration efforts. By sharing this program with other countries, we hope to greatly scale up the opportunities for higher education available to refugee youth around the world.”

The SRP is the only program of its kind to combine resettlement with higher education, made possible through the unique Canadian private sponsorship model. The program also depends on the support of Canadian universities, colleges and cegeps which play a critical role administering the program on their campuses. At today’s high-level meeting in Geneva, Minister McCallum pledged to support the growth of the SRP and encouraged other countries to consider adopting the program themselves.

“Canada has demonstrated remarkable leadership in providing higher education opportunities for refugees,” continued Eaton. “We look forward to working more closely with the Government of Canada to scale up the SRP and its impact. Together, we can provide more refugee youth with a chance to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.”

Since 1978, the SRP has provided over 1,500 young refugees from 37 countries of origin with life-changing education opportunities in Canada. Today, the program works in partnership with over 65 Canadian post-secondary institutions to sponsor students living in refugee contexts in Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon and Malawi.

Currently, the number of higher education opportunities made possible through the SRP pales in comparison to the overwhelming need around the world. But this is improving; in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Canadian post-secondary partners of the SRP have collectively doubled their support to the program, enabling WUSC to sponsor over 160 students in 2016 with more than half coming from Syria.


About WUSC: World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is a Canadian international development non-profit organization dedicated to improving education, employment and empowerment opportunities for youth, women and refugees in more than 25 countries around the world. For over fifty years, we have empowered our unique network of post-secondary institutions, private sector partners and volunteers to help build a more equitable and sustainable world for youth. To find out more, please visit

For more information, please contact:
Stephanie Leclair, Senior Communications Officer, WUSC
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 613-761-3714 |1-800-267-8699 x3714
Cell: 613-700-9956


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