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The Coady Institute provides development training to hundreds of international students. (CBC)

The federal government’s decision to fold the agency that handles international aid into the Department of Foreign Affairs is being watched closely by a university in Antigonish, N.S.

The Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University gets a third of its funding from the Canadian International Development Agency.

It provides development training to hundreds of international students. The school prides itself on being an ambassador for Canada.

On Monday a group of students who gathered to learn leadership skills to bring back to their countries sang the program’s praises.

"I already have solutions to the problems I walk with back home just by listening to all the ladies in the classroom," said Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba.

"Canada provides a very safe learning experience where women from different countries with different political contexts can just talk freely and can be heard freely," said Christine Sumog-oy.

The institute had just submitted its most recent proposal for funding to CIDA – close to $1 million per year - when the agency was absorbed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The new department will be known as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

The school's director, John Gaventa, said he's cautiously optimistic.

"I don’t think we should be alarmed yet. There’s some good news in this story, CIDA has assured us and others that existing projects will be continued. The overall CIDA budget has not been cut this year, which is good in times of austerity," he said.

"In Egypt now we are leading a big program with our Coady graduates building transparent accountable governments in a very difficult environment and this government has been absolutely committed to supporting transparency and accountability."

The federal government did not comment.

The five-year agreement between CIDA and the Coady Institute expires in December.