IIE Announces Expanded Assistance for Syrian Students

New Commitment to Action Announced at Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Annual Meeting

NEW YORK, September 24, 2013—The crisis in Syria has had a devastating effect on young people and the education sector. With many universities closed and millions of Syrians displaced within the country and throughout the world, the need is more urgent than ever to help Syrian students, refugees and scholars to continue their education and academic work. At the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting this week, the Institute of International Education announced an expanded CGI Commitment to Action to join forces with the Global Platform for Syrian Students and other partners to galvanize $7 million in emergency support, including more than 600 scholarships for Syrian students around the world.

Syria’s students, professors and researchers represent the country’s best chance to rebuild after the current violence subsides. Many Syrian families have been displaced or are living in refugee camps, with limited access to basic education, while schools in Syria have been damaged or destroyed. The Syrian scholarly community faces violence that is even more chilling. Students have been targeted in retribution for their participation in protests. General violence has spilled over onto university campuses, with tragic bombings taking place at the University of Aleppo and the University of Damascus earlier this year. Students have been forced to leave their homes and communities to escape shelling, and others have been unable to reach their classrooms because of the dangers en route.

“As Syrian university labs and classrooms are being bombed, and students and professors killed, kidnapped and imprisoned, the international community has a singular chance to affect the future of the Syrian national academy and a moral imperative to do so,” said IIE President Allan E. Goodman.

A year ago, the IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis was formed as a CGI Commitment by IIE, Illinois Institute of Technology, Jusoor, and the U.S. Department of State. For academic year 2013-2014, IIE has joined with the original partners as well as several new partners to expand the Consortium on a global basis. The Consortium is now joining forces with Kaplan Test Prep International, University of California, Davis Human Rights Initiative, Princess Basmah Bint Al Saud’s Global United Lanterns, and, most significantly, the Global Platform for Syrian Students, to assist more students in additional countries.

Founded by former President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio, the Global Platform for Syrian Students is a multi-stakeholder initiative supported by a core group of partners, including IIE, the Council of Europe, the League of Arab States, the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean and several governments. It relies upon a network of universities and higher education schools, civil society organizations and the private sector. 

Together, the partners have committed a total of $3 million. With a goal of raising another $4 million in university commitments and funds from public and private sources, the expanded Consortium plans to provide the following assistance to Syrian students and scholars in academic year 2013-2014:

  • 600 Syrian Student Scholarships: 200 in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq; 100 in other countries of the MENA region; 100 in North America; 100 in Portugal and other EU countries; 100 in Brazil and other Latin American countries.
  • 500 online test preparation courses provided without charge by Kaplan Test Prep International, to help students prepare for tests such as SAT, GMAT, and GRE that they will need to apply to higher education institutions
  • 15 Fellowships for Syrian Scholars through IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund: Fellowships will be matched by host universities around the world.
  • 10 Grants to provide top-off funds to supplement Consortium scholarships
  • Research and policy recommendations by the University of California, Davis Human Rights Initiative
  • Student mentorship by members of Jusoor
  • Institutional mentorship by Illinois Institute of Technology

During academic year 2012-13, the first year of the effort, IIE estimates that the Consortium mobilized $3.8 million in total assistance provided to approximately 100 Syrian students and scholars. IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund awarded 30 fellowships to highly threatened, senior Syrian academics. With private support, IIE provided $750,000 in fellowships to Syrian scholars, plus an additional $750,000 in matching funds from host institutions.  Through the Consortium, more than 30 institutions pledged to make full or partial tuition scholarships available to qualified students. As of the start of 2012-13, thirteen of these higher education institutions reported that they had awarded a total of 70 full and partial tuition scholarships worth approximately $2,373,200. Illinois Institute of Technology was the academic host institution that has provided scholarships for and hosted the greatest number of Syrian students to date, with 34 scholarships awarded. Monmouth College in Illinois has awarded 13 scholarships and University of Evansville in Indiana has awarded nine. A number of other colleges have provided scholarships to up to three Syrian students each.

As the Syria Consortium manager, IIE is actively seeking new partners and resources to expand the program’s reach and impact. Individuals and organizations that wish to participate should contact IIE at SyriaSupport@iie.org.

About the Institute of International Education

IIE 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 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 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. Our vision is that educational, cultural and professional opportunities transcend borders to foster a peaceful and interconnected world where all people achieve their full potential; think and act as global citizens; and build inclusive, thriving communities. Through its Emergency Student Fund (ESF), the Institute provides 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 other crises.

About the Global Platform for Syrian Students

Launched by former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, this initiative aims at providing scholarships and grants at the tertiary level for Syrian students whose education has been interrupted by the current crisis. The ultimate goal of the “Global Platform 4 Syrian Students” is to contribute to the self-reliance of young Syrians, in particular refugees, by providing them with the possibility of continuing their studies and working towards their professional qualification for future employment.  As a multi-stakeholders initiative the Platform  has three  core components: a Network of Partners with a core-group of supporters – namely the Institute of International Education (IIE), the Council of Europe, the League of Arab States, the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean and some governments; an Academic Consortium made up of universities, polytechnics and similar higher education institutions in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Portugal and Lithuania that participate in this effort by hosting students and granting them special conditions; an emergency  Fund made up of financial donations that support the scholarships and grants provided to the students participating in this project. For more information, contact hbarroco@netcabo.pt.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, livelihoods of people in Latin America and around world. For more information, follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.


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