Syrian students offered space at UPEI
Syrian students will still have to get Canadian student visas
Ten students currently in Syria, who are finding it impossible to carry on with their studies during the civil war there, will be offered space at the University of Prince Edward Island.
One of those students has already been selected: the cousin of current UPEI student Bassel Malake.
They don't want to stay under the bombings and explosions and the mortars.- Bassel Malake
"The way to her university in Damascus was closed and blocked, and she can't attend her university anymore," Malake told CBC News.
"She's now staying at home, doing nothing. It's really bad for her."
The university put together the plan to offer places to 10 students in less than two weeks. Barbara Campbell, director of international relations at UPEI, said the school was responding to a general feeling on campus of wanting to help.
"Everybody wants to do something, anything." said Campbell.
"I can only imagine what it must be to be a parent and see these young people having to stay home when they want to go to university or college. We're hoping that by taking 10 different students we will have an impact on 10 different families."
Getting visa an additional hurdle
The university plans to waive tuition for one year. It will offer free English classes and help the students find work on campus.
The students must also, however, apply for and get a student visa through the federal government, a process that can take two to eight months.
Malake is well aware of the difficulties. He left Syria three years ago. Even then he was finding it impossible to carry on his studies in his home country.
"It's going to be hard for them and risky for them," he said.
"Hopefully the embassy will understand that, and understand that they want to continue their studies to be better people in life, they don't want to stay under the bombings and explosions and the mortars."
Reaching out to community
The university has gotten in touch with Syrian students and members of the Syrian community on P.E.I. for names of potential candidates for the program.
Administrators say they can't offer accommodation as part of the package, so they are hoping members of the community will step up.
The school is asking anyone interested in helping with the project to get in touch.