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U of C opens its doors to refugee students from Kenya and Malawi

By Farah Kammourieh, September 25 2014 —

The University of Calgary has welcomed refugee students, usually from Africa, to study and live on campus since 1986. This  year, two students from Kenya and Malawi have made their way to the U of C.

The refugee student program is a partnership between the U of C, the Students’ Union and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). WUSC works with universities and institutions to bring refugee students to Canadian universities.

SU vice-president operations and finance Adam Swertz said one of this year’s incomers lived in a refugee camp in Kenya. He put himself through primary and secondary school before applying to WUSC.

Swertz said the students come from backgrounds where “their quality of life would be immensely improved” by moving to Canada.

The U of C accepts two refugee students per year. In comparison, the University of British Columbia invites five or six and the University of Alberta invites one.

The U of C waives residence and tuition fees for their first year and the SU pays for all other expenses.

The SU then pays their tuition in their second year. They lessen the students’ allowance each year until they are financially independent.

The two students start their year at the Global Village residence in Hotel Alma. Global Village houses a mix of international and domestic students. The refugee students live with Canadian students who will ideally help them settle into life at the U of C.

WUSC accepts no more than 50 students to attend their partner universities and institutions each year.

“These programs are hugely sought after. There [are] hundreds of applicants,” Swertz said.


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