Members of the WUSC community are welcoming the newest cohort of the Student Refugee Program.
Members of the WUSC community are welcoming the newest cohort of the Student Refugee Program.

WUSC Welcomes Largest Cohort of Refugee Youth, Including Students from Afghanistan

Hot off the press! Our largest cohort of refugee students to date has arrived in Canada through the Student Refugee Program! Among them are a cohort of Afghan students arriving from Pakistan.

For over 40 years, WUSC’s Student Refugee Program has provided life-changing opportunities for refugees to pursue their post-secondary studies at universities, colleges, and CEGEPs across Canada, helping them to create a better future for themselves and their families.

Thanks to the dedicated support from our network of postsecondary communities, volunteers and donors, in 2022-2023, we are welcoming our largest cohort ever: a total of 172 refugee students! 

Critical to the program’s success is a unique youth-to-youth sponsorship model, which empowers students to play an active role in promoting durable solutions for refugees. Campus-based Local Committees provide critical day-to-day social and academic support to newly arrived refugee students. 

This year, six new campuses have joined our growing network of post-secondary institutions committed to supporting the resettlement and integration of refugees through education. Join us in welcoming Algonquin College, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Conestoga College, Georgian College, Keyano College, and Olds College!

Education in Crisis: Spotlight on Afghanistan

As part of this year’s cohort, we are welcoming 21 Afghan refugees resettled from Pakistan. It is thanks to the many individual people and institutions who support the program that additional placements such as these can be made.

A year after the Taliban’s return to power, the situation remains critical in Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans have been affected by forced displacement, unable to return to their homes or schools. The future of education for an entire generation is at stake, especially for girls who are more likely to be out of school in conflict-affected contexts. In situations such as these, every new placement created through WUSC’s Student Refugee Program opens a door to a brighter future while many others become closed to refugees.

In response to Canada’s commitment to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees, WUSC called upon members of the post-secondary education community to support the resettlement and education needs of displaced Afghan refugees through the Student Refugee Program. 

Fifteen post-secondary institutions from across the country stepped up to create additional opportunities for Afghan students to continue their education on their campuses. These placements offer a lifeline to young people currently in a crisis situation. Through the Student Refugee Program, youth will access both safety and the means to rebuild their life.

Meet Nigara Shaheen

This academic year we are also excited to welcome another olympian through our Refugee Athlete Stream of the Student Refugee Program, a judo athlete, from Afghanistan. Nigara arrived in Canada earlier this month to begin studies at Centennial College. She shares that she is excited to have the opportunity to join this program. The “Student Refugee Program made me comfortable being me. I was so glad to be part of this amazing program where I am not hesitant sharing my journey and the fact that I am a refugee. It validates our journey as student refugees,” she explains.

Now in its second year, the Refugee Athlete Stream provides a pathway for refugee athletes to pursue their education and training while obtaining a more permanent solution to their forced displacement. To date, we have now welcomed a total of four athletes through this program. Learn more about last year’s cohort. 

WUSC is grateful for the generous support of our network of donors who responded to our emergency appeal to support the Student Refugee Program in response to the crisis in Afghanistan. 

Thank you to our many donors and collaborators across Canada and around the world, including World Education Services whose contributions were critical in helping us recruit and prepare Afghan students while mobilizing our campus network to urgently respond to this crisis by accepting more students this academic year. 

We would also like to thank our many program partners for their steadfast support for all refugees. We are grateful to our institutional partners who sustained their support for the program, ensuring that the new placements for Afghan students would not take away placements from deserving youth in other contexts of displacement around the world. 

Thank you to everyone who continues to support this cause. Because of you, we have been able to not only support more refugee youth but also offer them hope and a chance to continue their education in a safe and supportive environment.

To all of the students in the 2022-2023 cohort, on behalf of the WUSC network, we wish you the best of luck as you embark on this new journey! We wish you all the best and can’t wait to hear about what you accomplish next. 

Interested in learning about a student’s journey in the Student Refugee Program? Recent graduate and author Acha Patandjila reflects on her personal and academic journey and shares her advice to incoming students. Read her story.

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