Kitchener-Waterloo

Scholarships withdrawn for over 100 Saudi Arabian students at Waterloo, Laurier, Guelph

Saudi officials recently announced plans to withdraw all scholarships for their students in Canada and relocate them in other countries, affecting more than 100 Saudi Arabian students in Waterloo region and Guelph.

Students have been told they have a month to leave the country

Saudi officials recently announced plans to withdraw all scholarships for their students in Canada and relocate them in other countries, affecting more than 100 Saudi Arabian students in Waterloo region and Guelph. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada are having swift consequences for students in Waterloo region.

Saudi officials recently announced plans to withdraw all scholarships for their students in Canada and relocate them in other countries. 

Saudi Arabian university students across Canada have been told they have a month to leave the country.

It's estimated there are 20,000 Saudi students in Canada with 84 at the University of Waterloo, 15 at Wilfrid Laurier and 35 students based at the University of Guelph.

Ray Darling, registrar at the University of Guelph, said his school had been expecting those students to come back in the fall.

"It's now up to them I suppose to react to the news they received and either withdraw themselves or try to transfer to another institution," Darling told CBC KW.

He adds school staff have reached out to the students to offer support.

Darling said students have been encouraged to transfer to other universities in United States or United Kingdom, but many are concerned there won't be enough time to complete their transfers.

At the University of Waterloo, the majority of its 84 Saudi Arabian students are enrolled in graduate programs with 90 per cent of those students being affected by the sudden callback.

"University officials will continue to monitor the situation and provide any and all information and support it is able to give students who are affected," a university spokesperson said in an email to CBC K-W.

Wilfrid Laurier said it was also in touch with its students to offer support.

It's estimated that there are 20,000 Saudi students in Canada with 35 students based at the University of Guelph, 84 at the University of Waterloo and 15 at Wilfrid Laurier. (GatorEG/Wikipedia)

'Never seen an order like this'

Darling said student's withdrawals would have an impact on the University of Guelph — in terms of diversity and activities.

"Quite a few are graduate students and we would have been counting on them to assist us in classrooms as teaching assistants and they would be involved in research projects," he said.

Darling, who has been working in university enrolment for 27 years, says he's never seen a situation quite like this. 

"We've had experiences with other countries in the past where there were financial issues in the country," he said.

"But I've never seen an order like this before."

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