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Libyan students hopeful for continued funding

01/10/2012 04:36 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST

Last year was a difficult one for Adel Aktaibi and his family, both in Libya and in St. John's — and not just because of the war.

"If it is one problem, it's a big problem," Aktaibi said. "What about if [it's] two problems — funding and crisis, right?"

The 2,500 Libyan students studying in North America, including Aktaibi, are here thanks to a scholarship program that's funded by the Libyan government — but last year, the program almost ceased to exist.

That uncertainty, coupled with worries for families back home, made studying impossible at times.

With a new government now at the helm in Libya, funding has been secured but there are still challenges for students like Aktaibi.

New players

In October, the president of the Canadian Bureau for International Education travelled to Libya to meet these new players.

The CBIE's Jennifer Humphries said the program has always been apolitical, and Libya's newly created Department of Higher Education and Scientific Research wants to keep it that way.

So far, she said, the CBIE's dealings with the transitional council have been good.

But there's still some uncertainty.

"No one is ever complacent about these things," Humphries said. "Many things can happen over the course of the next year and years. But I think at the moment, we're feeling quite positive. And certainly, we're prepared to work with them on various arrangements."

Funding for students like Aktaibi has been guaranteed by the transitional council until the end May.

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