Nfld. & Labrador

Overwhelming response to waiving fees for students affected by travel ban, says MUN

Memorial University is overwhelmed by the response since it announced it would waive fees for students from seven countries targeted by an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump.

'We've had to add staff and borrow staff from all over the university'

Noreen Golfman, Memorial University provost and academic vice-president, says response to the university's waiving of application fees for students from seven countries targeted by a U.S. travel ban has been "through the roof." (CBC)

Memorial University says it's been overwhelmed by the response since it announced it would waive fees for students from the seven countries targeted by an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Noreen Golfman, MUN's provost and academic vice-president, told CBC's The Current on Monday that interest has been "through the roof" since the university made the announcement.

The number of calls and emails and inquiries we've had has put a lot of stress on our staff.- Noreen Golfman

"The number of calls and emails and inquiries we've had has put a lot of stress on our staff," she said. "In fact, we've had to add staff and borrow staff from all over the university to help us cope with just the sheer intensity of it."

Memorial University campus in St. John's. (CBC)
Golfman said she's been told by staff that the university is getting double the number of inquiries from international numbers, but couldn't provide figures.

"The officer in the school of grad studies wrote me last week and said he's just never seen anything like it," she said.

The travel ban has been suspended by a federal U.S. judge, but Golfman said she believes MUN will continue to waive the application fee even if the ban is defeated.

"Everybody is watching this very closely, obviously, all across Canada," she said, adding that even if the ban is struck down, students still might not feel comfortable studying in a country where there is a significant portion of the population that supports it.

"I think it's shifting the culture," said Golfman.

She said the decision to waive fees was a natural move.

Waiving fees a welcoming, inclusive gesture

​"It seemed like the first, easiest gesture we could make to signal to students, not just who might be applying from the seven countries affected by the ban, but from the U.S. who were considering leaving," she said.

"It would be a sign that we were welcoming, inclusive, that there was some other option for them, if they were considering applying to a university outside the U.S."

MUN is also exploring "some form of scholarship support" for students who do get admitted from the seven countries.

Golfman said the university has heard "heartfelt expressions of gratitude" from some of the approximately 220 students currently enrolled at MUN who are from the seven countries affected.

With files from The Current.

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