Concordia to Welcome Five Syrian Refugees

Concordia Chancellor Jonathan Wener Creates a Fund to Sponsor Students

Children at Al Salam in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo Kenza Ben Azouz

Concordia University is hoping to welcome another three Syrian refugee students by the Fall 2016 semester, after the university previously announced it will sponsor two Syrian refugees.

Concordia’s chancellor Jonathan Wener announced over the weekend that he will donate $50,000 to the university to “create a scholarship for first generation students,” said Bram Freedman, Vice-President, External Relations and Secretary General at Concordia. First generation students are those who are the first in their family to go to university, he explained.

“When the university saw the situation is Syria, the images and all the difficulties going on with the refugees, we started asking ourselves what can we do as a university,” Freedman said.

Although the scholarship created by Wener is not only available for Syrian students, the university has chosen to prioritize their applications for the first couple years.

The Wener fund will eventually sponsor other students from all nationalities who fall under the category of first generation students. Wener will encourage friends and colleagues to donate to the fund in order for the university to welcome more students in the future, according to Freedman.

The university is working in partnership with the Syrian Kids Foundation, a Canadian-based charity that operates a high school for Syrian refugees in Turkey, which will select the students who will receive the scholarship.

Concordia has already promised to sponsor two Syrian students chosen by the SKF school in Turkey to come study at Concordia.

The scholarship will cover the tuition and the accessory fees that students pay, like fee-levy groups and other student fees.

At this moment, it’s still not sure whether the students will be paying international fees or local fees, said Freedman. However, if the students are accepted as refugees, they will be paying Quebec fees.

“Whatever that amount is, we’re committed to provide the full amount,” said Freedman.

Freedman adds that there are a lot of resources on campus that will help the students fit within the Concordia community, like the Syrian Students Association who have been active in raising funds in the past months.

The two students who have already received the scholarship and applied to Concordia are waiting to go through the refugee screening process.They have applied to biochemistry and computer engineering programs.

As chancellor, Wener’s main role is to be an ambassador for Concordia. He is a non-observing member of the university’s highest decision-making body, its Board of Governors, which he served on from 1995 to 2012. Wener is also the CEO and chairman of Canderel, a Canadian real estate company.

Concordia is hoping the five students who will be sponsored will start their studies in the Fall 2016.