The crisis in Syria has mobilized a consortium of more than
30 higher education institutions and organizations, including DePaul University
in Chicago, to provide emergency support for Syrian students and scholars.
Announced Nov. 15 by the Institute of International
Education at the World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha, Qatar, the IIE-led
consortium is part of a partnership made public this fall at the Clinton Global
Initiative. The partnership includes the Syrian organization Jusoor and the Illinois
Institute of Technology.
According to the IIE, the crisis in Syria has created an
academic emergency, with the breakdown of higher education in the country and
major obstacles facing Syrian students and scholars who are studying or
teaching outside of Syria. The IIE noted there is an urgent need to provide
emergency assistance to these students and scholars to enable them to continue
their academic work in safe haven countries until they can return home.
Along with IIT, DePaul University is joining other U.S.
institutions, including Notre Dame Law School, Illinois State University and Brown
University, to provide scholarships for displaced Syrian students.
“We felt compelled to join this consortium given our long
history to serve students who might otherwise be denied a quality education,”
said GianMario Besana, DePaul’s associate vice president for academic affairs.
Besana oversees DePaul’s online learning and internationalization program.
“DePaul had indicated to the IIE that we will support one
doctoral student in our College of Computing and Digital Media as part of this
global effort. We also are open to considering other students who are still in
Syria or have found refuge elsewhere in our online courses,” Besana said.
Some of the students have already begun their studies at a
new institution, while others are expected to be matched and situated early
next year, Besana noted.
“Although the details of the timeline of the arrival of our
Syrian student still need to be worked out, we are ready to welcome a new face
into DePaul’s diverse and increasingly global university community,” he said.
The consortium is collaborating with the U.S. Department of
State’s EducationUSA network to help ensure Syrian students are aware of the
opportunities available through this initiative. The IIE noted that while
humanitarian efforts are under way to provide displaced Syrians with the basics
of food, water and shelter, the education needs of Syrians were not being
adequately met. Higher education students have been unable to attend classes
and complete their degrees due to continued violence and campus closures or
Prior to this initiative, there were few resources or
coordinated programs to assist Syrian students and scholars at the college and
university level, whether within or outside the country, noted the IIE.
“Syria needs students to continue their university education
and scholars to continue their academic work so that, even in the midst of
crisis, the country is producing the leadership and knowledge necessary for a
successful future,” said Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of IIE.
“With this commitment and with the generosity of additional
donors, we will be able to assist Syrian students and scholars whose expertise
will be so urgently needed as the country begins to rebuild,” he said.
More information and a list of participating institutions
and organizations are online at www.iie.org/syria.
The IIE press announcement from Qatar is also online at http://DPUne.ws/syrianstudents.