Algonquin College has welcomed nine Syrian refugee students to campus this year, following through on their pledge of $60,000 from last September.
The bursary funds, coming from the Algonquin College Foundation and the Students’ Association, cover a range of expenses from tuition to childcare expenses for the recipients.
Krisha Stanton, manager of financial aid and student awards confirmed that a group of nine men and women have begun their classes this fall at the college.
“About half of them are currently working on English classes, and the others are enrolled in business classes,” she said in an interview with the Times on Sept. 29. “Many of them already have credentials from home, but they lack the English skills to make these degrees applicable here.”
The students cannot be named for confidentiality reasons, but many of them have families who have travelled to Canada along with them.
Last year, the Algonquin College Foundation, a charitable subsidiary of the college, pledged up to $50,000 for refugees seeking to study at the college.
Following this announcement, the Algonquin Students’ Association Board then pledged an additional $10,000 to go towards the fund.
“I want to underline that I don’t believe that the bursary fund deserves special recognition because I don’t see it as something exceptional the SA or the college is doing,” said current SA president Egor Evseev. “As humans it is our responsibility to extend a hand to those in need and offer these individuals the opportunity at an education, and at a new start in our amazing country.”
Last year, Laura Stranbra, the vice president of student services, expressed how the college may need to reach out to private donors as we welcome the Syrian students and once the funds become depleted.
“This isn’t an issue that’s going away anytime soon, unfortunately,” Stanbra said. “I see it as a multiple year project.”
However, Stanton from the financial aid office, confirmed that as a result of welcoming the nine students this semester, the fund is now almost empty.
Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen said that she does not see the college renewing the fund. “It was a one time fund for the influx of Syrian refugees in Ottawa,” she said.
However, she ensures that the college does have other services in place to help refugees in other ways. “The dental hygiene students volunteer their time to give free dental care to Syrian refugees,” she said. “If there is a concerted effort to bring in more refugees, we will look at opening the fund up as an option again.”