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Columbia University Offers Full Scholarships to Refugees and Other Displaced Students

Columbia university

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    Columbia University has announced that it is set to give full scholarships to refugees and other displaced students.

    Under Columbia’s “Scholarship for Displaced Students” the scholars will be able to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees across all 18 Columbia schools and affiliate institutions.

    Each year, up to 30 students will be provided tuition, housing and living assistance for the entire duration of terms necessary to complete the degree, according to the official announcement.

    “We are very proud of the Columbia Scholarship for Displaced Students,” University President Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement. “The program sends a powerful message about the role that colleges and universities should be playing to help young people whose educations have been disrupted because they have been forced to flee violence and persecution in their home countries.”

    The initiative, which will be under the administration of Columbia Global Centers, started as a program by Professor Bruce Usher for Syrian refugees at The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School.

    Usher revealed that his motivations for initiating the project came from a childhood memory — just as his grandparents from Montreal had taken in a Jewish teenager who fled Austria during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

    “He went on to finish high school, go to college and enjoy a successful career as an accountant,” Usher shared. “He always said that living with my family allowed him to get an education, which changed the course of his life.”

    When news reports emerged about people desperately escaping Syria in 2015, he was reminded of the story. He then thought of ways Columbia University could make a difference.


    Schools like the Mailman School of Public Health, School of Social Work, Law School, School of International and Public Affairs, Teachers College and the Earth Institute have also contributed significantly to the research and programs related to forced migration.

    Based on the data cited by Columbia, over 70.8 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes by violence, persecution and other human rights violations. Out of the nearly 26 million individuals classified by the United Nations as refugees, only 3% will reportedly get to enroll in a college or university.

    Columbia’s “Scholarship for Displaced Students” is the first time such a university-wide scholarship is being offered in the world.

    Open to students from anywhere in the world, the program requires applicants to be “foreign nationals who are either internally or externally displaced with refugee status, or those who have either received asylum or submitted an application for asylum in the United States.”

    Potential scholars must apply and be accepted by one of the participating schools. Each school will have its own admissions criteria and application deadlines. Interested parties may check out the Columbia Global Centers website for more details.

    Feature Image via Columbia Global Centers

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