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Press Release

IIE’s Emergency Student Fund Assists Syrian and Yemeni Students Enrolled in U.S. Universities

NEW YORK, April 7, 2016—The Emergency Student Fund of the Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded grants to 52 Syrian students and 39 Yemeni students on U.S. college and university campuses who face urgent financial need due to the on-going crises in their home countries.  These grants are made possible by IIE and additional funding for Syrian students from Jusoor, a non-profit organization that supports Syria’s development through education, and shares IIE’s commitment of helping students to remain enrolled in their U.S. degree programs so they will be better prepared to assist their country in the future.

The Emergency Student Fund grants and other efforts to assist students from Syria access higher education were discussed at a high-level diplomatic discussion convened by IIE and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) today at the German Mission to the United Nations in New York today.  Experts who gathered to discuss the enormous need for the global higher education community to respond to the refugee crisis included Allan Goodman, IIE’s President and CEO; Dr. Dorothea Rüland, Secretary General of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Ms. Karen AbuZayd, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary General; Ms. Christine Matthews, Deputy Director of the UNHCR New York Office; Ambassador Mr. Geir O. Pedersen, Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN; and Ambassador Mr. Alvaro Mendonca e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN. In addition, Ms. Sana Mustafa, a Syrian student attending Bard College told her personal story about coming to the United States and being helped by IIE's Syria Consortium to connect with scholarships and resources.

IIE received 65 nominations from 36 colleges and universities in 21 states across the United States for this round of funding for Syrian students, and 59 nominations from 40 colleges and universities in 23 states for Yemeni students. This represents approximately 8 percent of the Syrian students and 11 percent of students from Yemen currently studying in the United States. The nominees are all facing situations in which their families can no longer help fund their studies due to the severe political and humanitarian crises in their home countries.

“When discussing the crises in Syria and Yemen, people tend to think that international students in the United States are safe and, therefore, have no need,” said Allan Goodman, IIE’s President and CEO. “But many students risk not being able to complete university because emergencies in their home countries have prevented their families from sending money for school. An investment in a student’s higher education is an investment in restoring long-term peace in Syria and Yemen.”

IIE gave priority to nominated students with the most urgent financial need who are currently enrolled in full-time degree programs and are scheduled to graduate in 2016 or 2017. As part of the nomination and award process, U.S. host colleges and universities indicate their support of the selected students through provision of tuition waivers, loans, housing, meal plans, or other forms of support. The 91 students are enrolled in all levels of higher education, ranging from the undergraduate to the doctoral level and represented many different fields of study including journalism, political science, engineering, physics, accounting, biology, finance, and social work.

“The Emergency Student Fund has played a critical role in helping our Syrian students remain enrolled in their degree program and proceed towards graduation,” said Erin Fitzgerald, Director of International Programs at Salve Regina University. “We have been able to offer a full tuition scholarship to Syrian students whose education has been interrupted, but once those students arrive on campus they face the daunting challenge of covering the costs of room, board, books, insurance and incidentals. The funding our students received from the ESF closed the gap and made a critical difference at a moment of potential crisis for the students. The day they heard about the funding I could literally see their posture relax as they realized they would have enough to continue their studies into the next semester. The ESF is a critical part of the solution, and without the ESF, scholarships from universities may not be enough to help a Syrian student complete his or her interrupted education.”

"Students committed to continuing their university studies despite the challenges of displacement, economic strife, and personal loss are nothing less than heroes,” said Maya Alkateb-Chami, Director of Jusoor. “We at Jusoor are honored to join hands with IIE in supporting 52 Syrian students currently enrolled in U.S. universities--young men and women whose economic struggle would have stood between them and the education they deserve."

“We are extremely grateful for the generous financial support provided by the Syria-Yemen Emergency Fund for two of our Yemeni students who have been impacted by the political crisis in Yemen.  With the interruption of financial support from their sponsors, the Syria-Yemen Emergency Student Fund has brought tangible help and encouragement enabling our students to better focus on their studies and to aim towards their dreams to graduate, ”said Anita Gaines, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, University of Houston.

The Institute of International Education’s Emergency Student Fund is one of several initiatives led by IIE to help students and scholars in danger from around the world. With a long tradition of rescuing threatened scholars since its founding in 1919, IIE established the Scholar Rescue Fund® (IIE-SRF) in 2002. Over the past 12 years, IIE-SRF has saved the lives, work, and voices of nearly 643 from 55 countries, including 85 Syrian and 8 Yemeni scholars.  Launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2011, IIE’s Syria Consortium has mobilized and coordinated over $6 million in assistance and educational opportunities for Syrian students and scholars.  In fall 2015, IIE launched the “Camps to Campus”, the Emergency Student Fund for Syrian Refugees, a pilot program providing scholarships for Syrian students in Jordan to complete their higher education at nearby universities.

To support IIE's Emergency Student Fund, please make a donation now and designate your gift by entering "ESF" in the gift designation field.


About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions.

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