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ISOW Newcomer Scholarship Program aids refugee-claimant youth

A new university-community partnership will help refugee-claimant youth in Canada continue their education.

Laurier and its International Students Overcoming War (ISOW) club have entered a five-year partnership with COMPASS Refugee Centre, a resettlement organization in Kitchener, Ont., to offer the ISOW Newcomer Scholarship Program. The program assists up to two recipients per academic year with undergraduate tuition fees in any Laurier program and is renewable if eligibility criteria – including refugee-claimant status and financial need – are met.

ISOW logo

The scholarship is designed to offset financial barriers that academically eligible refugee-claimant youth in Canada face. Refugee-claimants – sometimes referred to as asylum seekers – would be considered international students and ineligible for tuition assistance through government programs. International student tuition fees can make education inaccessible for most refugee-claimant youth.

“Education brings opportunities that these youth need as they try to move on from the disruption in their lives.”

– Shelley Campagnola

“As demonstrated by the success of the ISOW program and its scholars, access to education creates life-changing opportunities for students whose lives and studies have been threatened in their home countries,” says Gavin Brockett, associate professor of History at Laurier and ISOW faculty liaison. “We are thrilled to offer the ISOW Newcomer Scholarship Program with our partners at COMPASS Refugee Centre.”

Laurier will welcome the first Newcomer Scholarship Program recipient, a female student from Turkey, to the Faculty of Science at the Waterloo campus this fall. She will be joined by six international students beginning their academic journeys at Laurier with ISOW scholarship support.

“The opportunity for refugee-claimant youth to access postsecondary education is huge,” says Shelley Campagnola, executive director at COMPASS Refugee Centre. “Education brings opportunities that these youth need as they try to move on from the disruption in their lives.”

The ISOW Newcomer Scholarship Program is funded by a student levy of $8 per term per student and charitable donations to COMPASS Refugee Centre. Community members can support the scholarship fund by making an online donation to ISOW or COMPASS Refugee Centre. For more information about the ISOW Newcomer Scholarship Program, email

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