Each year, more than 45 student refugees enter Canada through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program (SRP) to attend university. Since the creation of WUSC in 1977, this organization, in partnership with Immigration Canada, has sponsored over 850 refugees, providing them with an opportunity to study for one year at one of 51 participating Canadian universities. After the first year of studies, the students have the option to continue their studies independently.
Right: York’s World University Service of Canada student committee. Pictured from left to right are: Hanna (Keele), Kamal Farmaly (Glendon WUSC president), Nikki (Keele WUSC), Josh Jackson (Keele WUSC), John Wires (Glendon WUSC), Simon Kuany (Keele WUSC sponsored refugee student, wearing a green shirt), Kandre Archambault (Glendon WUSC), Alain Nzikoruiriho (Glendon WUSC), and in the front, Kevin Au (Keele WUSC).
Through a small opt-out levy of three cents per credit hour, each student at York directly sponsors a refugee student. The cumulative total of this levy incurs enough funds to sponsor the housing, meal and tuition costs for the student for one year. In the past York has hosted students from Congo (2000), Afghanistan (2001), Ethiopia (2002), Burma (2003) and Sudan (2005). Once they arrive in Canada, a designated social committee helps the student through their first steps of the integration process.
Simon Kuany, the WUSC-sponsored refugee student attending York University this year, comes from Sudan in Africa. He has spent the past 12 years of his life living in a refugee camp in Kenya. Given the circumstances, he would have had no opportunity to improve his living conditions without the help of WUSC and York. Because of the combined effort of York University students, Kuany is able to study chemistry and pursue a better life in an environment free of violence and fear. It is very rare that three cents can go such a long way.
One of the key factors that makes this program so successful is the committee of students that select and help the refugee student accommodate to his or her new life. This year a new committee has been established at York’s Glendon campus, and it will begin sponsoring a student in the 2006-2007 academic year. This is a great experience for students because they are given the unique opportunity to learn first-hand about refugees and development issues. There is always an opportunity to get involved in this great project. To learn more about this program, visit the World University Service of Canada Web site.