Alberta's two major universities are stepping up their support for student refugees amid Canada's pledge to increase humanitarian support for Syria.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated his pledge to welcome 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of the year. It's not yet known how many will eventually resettle in Alberta.
The University of Alberta announced earlier this year the creation of a new award to cover tuition and living costs for up to 10 Syrian students. They will start classes as early as January 2016.
"Our first president indicated that ‘the uplifting of the whole people’ be our final goal, and this initiative achieves exactly that," Navneet Khinda, president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, said in a statement.
"I am a proud U of A student knowing that our community is doing what we can for displaced Syrian people."
The University of Calgary renewed a program at the beginning of November allowing the school to fund two refugee students each year.
Established in 1986, the university's Student Refugee Program has so far sponsored 29 students. The program is primarily funded by the Students' Union, while the school waives admission fees, tuition, textbook, and accommodation costs.
Students receive $72,000 each for four years of study.
This year's students, Abraham Achuil and Tamun Ahas Ras, came to Calgary from a refugee camp in Kenya, where they were living after fleeing violence in their home country of Sudan.
One of the program's sponsors, the World University Service of Canada is asking all Canadian post-secondary schools to make a public commitment to increase their support to the Student Refugee Program.
In the Prairies, the University of Alberta and the University of Regina have committed to the cause.
Susan Barker, the U of C's vice-provost of student experience, told Metro News the university is currently looking at options to advance their support, but have yet to settle on final details.
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