The University of Calgary is working to make it easier for Syrian refugees considering post-secondary education by launching a new donation-matching bursary program.

The school will match up to $100,000 raised by students, faculty, staff and community members to provide up to 33 bursaries to newcomers.

The $6,000 bursaries will be used for the first year of tuition for Syrian students, said John Alho, a university spokesperson. 

John Alho, Associate Vice-President, Government and Community Engagement at University of Calgary

John Alho of the University of Calgary says a new Syrian refugee bursary program will be an opportunity for them to get their foot in the door. (LinkedIn)

"It will be an opportunity for them to kind of get their foot in the door, get settled in their first year of education here at the university," said Alho.

"And beyond that they can transition into other programming that we've got in place."

With 2,000 Syrian refugees — including families with university-aged children — expected to arrive in Calgary in coming months, Alho anticipates there will be a lot of interest in the program. 

"We think the numbers are going to be pretty high."

To qualify, refugee students will have to meet the regular entrance requirements for the university.

Students pleased with new bursary program

The bursary program is being welcomed by Sarah Pousette, with the University of Calgary's Students' Union.

Sarah Pousette with the U of C Students' Union

Sarah Pousette says the success of the bursary program will really depend on how much people donate. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

"I'm really happy and excited to see where it goes," said Pousette who chairs the Refugee Student Board.

"The success of this will really depend on how much people donate ... so I really am hopeful that community and faculty are really supporting this initiative."

The university is also providing other supports including free English language training for up to 60 Syrian refugees.