News Release

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 disruptions.

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 The IIE press announcement from Qatar is also online at


GianMario Besana

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