IIE Consortium Commits to Emergency Support for Syrian Students and Scholars

Clinton Global Initiative Commitment Seeks to Support Higher Education in Syria during Crisis

DOHA, November 15, 2012—In response to the crisis in Syria, the Institute of International Education (IIE) announced today at the World Innovation Summit on Education in Doha that an IIE-led consortium of over 30 higher education institutions and other organizations around the world has committed over $1.3 million in emergency support for Syrian students and scholars.  The IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis is part of a partnership announced in September 2012 at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) among IIE, Syrian organization Jusoor, and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

The crisis in Syria has created an academic emergency, with the break-down of higher education within the country and major obstacles facing Syrian students and scholars who are studying or teaching outside of Syria. There is an urgent need to provide emergency assistance to these students and scholars to enable them to continue their academic work in safe haven countries until they can return home.

While humanitarian efforts are underway to provide displaced Syrians with the basics of food, water, and shelter, the education needs of Syrians are being met only on a minimal basis and even then focusing on primary schooling.  Many Syrian families have been displaced or are living in refugee camps, with limited access to education, while others are either afraid to send their children to school or are coping with schools that have been destroyed in the violence. Higher education faces a similar plight, with many students unable to attend classes and complete their degrees, due to continued violence and campus closures or disruptions. There are very few resources or coordinated programs to assist Syrian students and scholars at the college and university level, whether within or outside of the country. 

At the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September, the Institute of International Education announced that it will lead—along with Jusoor and IIT—an initiative to provide emergency support to Syrian students and scholars. The three organizations together committed a total of $2 million. The overall goal of the Commitment is a total of $5 million in support, which would enable the following:

  • Provide IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) fellowships to up to 15 senior, threatened academics from Syria.
  • Provide IIE Emergency Student Fund (ESF) grants to up to 100 Syrian students whose education has been interrupted by the crisis.
  • Provide scholarships to up to 50 Syrian students to attend Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
  • Build a consortium of universities around the world who will offer scholarships to assist threatened Syrian students, with a goal of 50 new scholarships in the next year.

In the weeks since the CGI Commitment was announced, 27 universities around the world have joined the IIE consortium, agreeing to provide scholarships for students and serve as host campuses for professors and senior scholars. Commitments by consortium members have added $1.3 million toward the CGI goal, for a total of $3.3 million out of $5 million needed.  For example, Notre Dame Law School in the United States is offering one full scholarship for a Syrian student, two partial scholarships for Syrian students, and to host one threatened scholar from Syria, a commitment that totals over $100,000.  Central European University in Hungary and the University of Edinburgh in the UK are offering several full scholarships for Syrian students. Several higher education associations also joined the consortium and are helping to reach out to more institutions. The Richard Lounsbery Foundation, based in Washington, DC, has agreed to provide grant funds for up to four Scholar Rescue Fund fellowships for threatened Syrian professors. Foundations, corporations, and others who wish to help can continue to join IIE’s consortium or provide support for the IIE Emergency Student Fund.

The 33 consortium members, located in the United States, Canada, Hungary, UK, Mexico, and France, are:  American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU); American University; Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; Aston University; Brown University; Bryn Mawr College; CampusFrance USA; the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE); Central European University; DePaul University; Eastern Michigan University; Emory University; Emporia State University; Fairleigh Dickinson University; Felician College; Illinois State University; Le Moyne College; Montclair State University; Notre Dame School of Law; Notre Dame of Maryland University; Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh; Richard Lounsbery Foundation; St. Cloud State University; UK Higher Education International Unit; Universidad Veracruzana; University of Central Missouri; University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; University of Edinburgh; University of Evansville; University of Miami; Willamette University.

To match students and scholars with opportunities, IIE, Jusoor, and IIT will create an online portal to enable individuals needing educational assistance to browse available scholarships and apply to participating universities directly. IIE and IIT will serve as a resource to institutions on how best to provide support services to Syrian students and scholars, while Jusoor will help advertise opportunities widely within the Syrian community.  The online portal will also provide comprehensive information on freely accessible online learning options, so that Syrian students and scholars who cannot leave Syria or travel for scholarship opportunities can continue their education during the crisis. The online portal will be launched in December, 2012.

IIE, IIT and Jusoor will collaborate with the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network to help ensure Syrian students are aware of the opportunities that are available through this initiative. EducationUSA-Syria provides accurate, comprehensive and current information about U.S. higher education and guidance to qualified Syrian students to access opportunities for study in the United States. 

The Institute of International Education 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. IIE’s Emergency Student Fund provides emergency grants to students who are studying outside their home countries and whose sources of support have been impacted by natural disaster or crisis. In Spring 2012, IIE provided 46 Emergency Student Fund grants to enable Syrian students on U.S. college and university campuses who faced urgent financial need due to the current situation in Syria to continue their education. These grants were made possible in part by generous support from members of the Syrian-American community. 

“Syria needs students to continue their university education and scholars to continue their academic work so that, even in the midst of crisis, the country is producing the leadership and knowledge necessary for a successful future,” said Institute of International Education President and CEO Allan E. Goodman. “With this commitment and with the generosity of additional donors, we will be able to assist Syrian students and scholars whose expertise will be so urgently needed as the country begins to rebuild,” said Dr. Goodman.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 18 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. IIE also protects scholarship worldwide by providing support and assistance to threatened students and scholars through such programs as IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) and Emergency Student Fund (ESF).

About Jusoor

Jusoor is focused on bringing together and engaging Syria’s global diaspora community in efforts related to economic and social development. In less than a year, Jusoor’s network has grown to 3,000 individuals in more than 20 countries. Our current programs focus on mentoring students in Syria, providing scholarships, and support research and idea generation related to Syria’s development and future. Jusoor is a strictly non-political organization.

About Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

Founded in 1890, Illinois Institute of Technology is a private Ph.D.-granting university that awards degrees in engineering, the sciences, mathematics, architecture, law, design, psychology, and business. IIT takes an inter-professional approach to research and teaching. By reaching across geographic boundaries, academic disciplines, and the professions, IIT prepares students for leadership roles in an increasingly complex global workplace while conducting a substantial program of applied and basic research with the goal of transforming lives and inventing the future.

  • IIT Armour College of Engineering
  • IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • IIT College of Architecture
  • IIT College of Psychology
  • IIT College of Science and Letters
  • IIT Institute of Design
  • IIT School of Applied Technology
  • IIT Stuart School of Business

About the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA Network

EducationUSA is a network of more than 400 advising centers around the world, supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. As a part of this network, the virtual educational advising office for Syrian students offers free, virtual college counseling and guidance to students interested in studying in the USA. This includes students interested in undergraduate, graduate, or non-degree programs. The advisor can discuss topics such as the admissions process, standardized testing, how to select a university, and financial aid.


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