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Press Release

The Institute of International Education Launches the IIE Emergency Student Fund

Through contributions and donations, the Fund will provide emergency grants to international students

DOHA, November 2, 2011—At the 3rd World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha today, the Institute of International Education announced the launch of the IIE Emergency Student Fund. With initial funds raised for students from East and Southeast Asia, IIE is issuing a request to donors around the world to support this fund for other world areas. The purpose of the Emergency Student Fund is to provide emergency grants to post-secondary students matriculated at accredited educational institutions outside their home countries whose sources of support have been impacted by natural disaster or crisis.

The Institute’s goal is to raise an initial fund of at least $5 million dollars to provide critical financial support to international students facing financial hardships due to major crises in their home countries, so that they can continue their studies and return home to help rebuild their countries. This initiative builds on a Freeman Foundation designation of $2.5 million for students from East and Southeast Asia studying in the United States. IIE is seeking donors to cover other world areas, including the Middle East, Africa, and South America.

In recent years, the Institute has worked quickly to raise money for separate emergency grants to meet urgent needs of students from earthquake-struck regions of Japan, Haiti, and Indonesia, as well as students whose home sources of financial support were impacted by political or economic crises in Libya, East and Southeast Asia, and Mexico. Having a fund already in place will allow the Institute to respond quickly to future disasters and to help more students when future emergencies arise.

In response to specific emergencies, IIE will issue a call for applications to the Emergency Student Fund. Students must be nominated by their host universities, which are also encouraged to provide as much support to students as possible. Host university support may be in the form of tuition waivers, reduced meal plans, and/or direct financial assistance.

The Institute has a long history of mobilizing support to help students and scholars in need throughout the world. IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. 

“Through the establishment of the IIE Emergency Student Fund, we will be able to respond to urgent and unpredictable crises in an immediate and effective manner,” said IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman. “The generosity of donors who contribute to the Fund will enable IIE to assist in educating these future leaders whose talents will be so urgently needed in the months and years to come as these nations fight against disease and economic disruption and as they begin to rebuild,” said Dr. Goodman.

IIE welcomes contributions to its Emergency Student Fund, through which it can provide urgent assistance to international students facing financial hardships due to major crises in their home countries which may preclude their completing their studies. For example, these funds, which are often matched by host universities, enable students to continue paying tuition and replace essential items such as books and computers damaged in natural disasters. The Emergency Student Fund may also provide urgently-needed medical equipment and care to students facing serious illness or disability.

Over the past eight years, the Institute has provided emergency grants to international students following the Southeast Asia tsunami (2004), Hurricane Katrina (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the earthquake in Japan (2011), and the crisis in Libya (Spring, 2011).  With support from the Freeman Foundation, IIE has been able to provide emergency assistance to students from East and Southeast Asia studying in the United States.  In the Spring of 2011 the Institute provided emergency grants to 50 Libyan graduate students in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Russia, Malaysia, and Japan whose scholarships were on hold due to the crisis in their country. This emergency support helped cover urgent needs such as food, shelter, and medical care until such time as scholarships resumed and the students could continue their education.

Also this Spring, the Institute disbursed $445,000 in emergency funds from the Freeman Foundation to 110 Japanese students in the U.S. who had not received financial support from home since the earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11. “Some of these students lost their homes, and some of their families lost a loved one or saw their businesses destroyed,” said Allan Goodman. “Our goal, and that of the Freeman Foundation, was to help relieve the financial burden compounding the students' personal distress, and to encourage them to complete their U.S. studies so they could return home with the skills and new knowledge to help rebuild their shattered communities.”

The Japan grants ranged from $1,000 - $5,000, depending on the individual student’s level of need. Many of the campuses hosting these awardees also provided support, either in the form of tuition reduction, on-campus employment, fee waivers, or scholarships. A Japanese student in Oklahoma commented, “This will make it possible for me to continue my education. Thank you again for your amazing help. My family and I will never forget this.”

In 2010, the Institute disbursed more than $200,000 in grants of between $1,000 and $2,000 each to 147 Haitian students in the U.S. whose studies were affected in by the earthquake. Many students lost friends and family members, homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed, and families who still had resources were directing them to more urgent needs in Haiti. Priority was given to those who had little other support and were very close to graduating. 

Some schools were generously able to waive tuition altogether or provide free housing; a number of state schools gave Haitian students in-state tuition rates. Other assistance provided included book vouchers, extending payment deadlines, providing counseling, providing assistance with on-campus employment and helping students apply for economic hardship work authorization. 

Students that IIE was able to assist last year have commented on the personal and long-term impact that relatively small emergency grants can make. For example, a nursing student from Haiti commented, “This contribution to my education will have a lifelong impact in my life and the lives of those I will be caring for in the future in Haiti after I receive my nursing degree in May 2011,” while a student in business and human resources management wrote, “After my education, I will go back to Haiti to participate in the reconstruction of the country. The money you have awarded me will be put to good use for my future, and for the future of Haiti. Thank you.” 

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Program Contact

Donors who are interested in partnering with IIE to support this fund should contact:

Jonah Kokodyniak
Deputy Vice President, Strategic Development
Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017 USA
Tel: +1 212.984.5357
Fax: +1 212.984.54
E-mail: jkokodyniak@iie.org

Media Contacts

Sharon Witherell
Director, Public Affairs
Tel: +1 212.984.5380
E-mail: switherell@iie.org