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THE USA: Latest News

'We've provided more than $2 million in emergency scholarships" IIE CEO, Dr. Allan E. Goodman

Dr Goodman tells us how the Institute of International Education is helping students in crisis

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What projects is IIE involved with at the moment to support refugees? 

In 2012, IIE launched the Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis to provide Syrian students whose education was disrupted by crisis with an opportunity to begin or continue their studies in a safe environment and provide them with the skills needed to rebuild their country in the future.


The Consortium has provided more than 150 scholarships to Syrians and hopes to increase that number in 2016. Syrians who come to the United States on a scholarships offered through IIE’s Consortium are usually on an F-1 student visa which means that they are technically not considered as refugees.


IIE is piloting a project to provide scholarships to Syrian refugee students in Jordan to continue their education at nearby universities. This pragmatic model leverages IIE's experience in implementing the IIE Emergency Student Fund (ESF) programme by supporting students who have already enrolled at Jordanian universities and remain in good academic standing but who have dropped out (or are at risk of dropping out) for financial reasons. The program prioritizes students in fields critical to rebuilding Syria. The first scholarship recipients resumed their studies in fall 2015. IIE hopes to be able to expand this project in 2016.


IIE’s Emergency Student Fund provides urgent funding to international students currently studying in the United States and whose sources of support have been impacted by natural disaster or crisis. Since 2010, the Institute has provided more than $2 million in emergency grants to over 700 students from Japan, Haiti, Thailand, Libya, the Philippines, Iran, and Syria.  ESF grants leverage an average of three times as much additional funding, as host universities are requested to provide tuition relief, housing, and meal plans to students receiving ESF grants.


To date, a total of 89 Syrian students at more than 40 U.S. universities have received ESF support. The nomination deadline for a third ESF for Syrian students just closed and we expect to nominate additional emergency grants to Syrian students in the next two weeks.


Finally, IIE also provides academic fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries through the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund.


What advice do you have for institutions wanting to support these types of students?Institutions that are interested in hosting a Syrian student on their campus should reach out to IIE’s Syria Consortium to learn more about how to join the Consortium and the benefits of being a Consortium member. IIE has a large network of member institutions eager to share their knowledge and best practices on hosting Syrian students on their campus. 


Another valuable resource, especially for U.S. institutions, is EducationUSA Syria. EducationUSA Syria actively promotes U.S. higher education offering Syrian students and scholars, accurate, unbiased, comprehensive, objective and timely information about educational institutions in the United States and on how best to access those opportunities. EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries. 

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