By Andrea Maclean
Associate News Editor
Ryerson will be giving one student an all-expenses-paid first year at the university.
Through the Student Refugee Program, the university will provide free tuition, books, residence and food for a student coming to Ryerson from a developing nation.
The Student Refugee Program is an initiative through World University Services Canada (WUSC.) It supports students fleeing war or persecution in developing countries to continue their studies in Canada.
The WUSC committee on campus intends to sponsor one refugee student every year.
“The university and WUSC at Ryerson makes a commitment [to support the student] both financially and emotionally,” said Jackie Strecker, chair of the Ryerson WUSC committee. “Many faculty and students have signed on to be an emotional support system.”
“We are getting commitments from the university and the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) to fund the student for the first year,” said RSU president Muhammad Ali Jabbar. “There will be no cost to the student whatsoever for the first year.”
But, according to Jabbar, there are talks of extending the funding to cover tuition for the following year. “We are in negotiations [with the University] to ensure there are minimum costs for the second year for the student.”
Student refugees will also have assitance finding a job and accessing OSAP, said Jabbar.
Those who come as part of WUSC may be able to stay permanntly. “Because WUSC has an agreement with the Canadian government and Immigration, students that come over are landed immigrants.. they can apply for permanent residency,” said Strecker.
The local committee at Ryerson will submit an application to WUSC Ottawa within the next month to have the first refugee student begin Fall 2009.
Ryerson politics professor Grace-Edward Galabuzi was a refugee student in the program and now lives in Canada. He was unavailable for comment.
WUSC Local Committees on campuses across the country sponsor about 50 new student refugees through the program every year.
The refugee students come from countries like Ethiopia, Burma, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan and Afghanistan.