The Refugee Student Program may just be one of the University of Calgary's best kept secrets.
The program, adopted by the university in 1986, is little known, but helps the university connect with refugee camps across the world.
World University Services Canada links Canadian post-secondary institutions with students living in refugee camps. Students only need a high school diploma or an equivalent to participate.
Currently the U of C has four refugee students, but the Students' Union is looking to increase that number to five.
"We are hoping at some point to be able to sponsor an additional student and expand the program," said SU vice-president operations and finance Alex Judd.
After a post-secondary institution becomes sponsored by WUSC, they are sent applications from which they select an appropriate student based on the university's offered programs and the student's academic needs. The sponsoring school supports the student economically. According to Judd, the level of sponsorship and the number of students depends on the school, but the U of C normally pays the student's tuition and negotiates a free room in residence for their first year and then offers bursaries for the following years, generally at a maximum of five years and totalling roughly $43,000.
The money is collected from student and faculty fees and can be used for everything from textbooks and school supplies to groceries.
While the financial assistance is important, the personal support system provided to students with is indispensable. From the moment the students arrive, they receive constant assistance from the SU and the Refugee Students Board.
"We help the student along, from picking them up at the airport, helping them set up a bank account and generally day to day things you wouldn't already have established," said Judd. "Most of our students don't even have winter jackets."