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August 10, 2020

Student Project Spotlight: Support for Refugee Students

In 250-300 words, how would you describe your project? What does it aim to accomplish? Who’s the targeted audience? 

Our project was titled, Refugee Student Support during COVID-19. It sought to determine the effects of COVID-19 on refugees enrolled in post-secondary institutions across Canada. Through a qualitative survey and interviews, our analysis found that refugee students are: struggling financially, concerned with the transition to online schooling and are lacking a sense of a belonging to the local community for support. Thus, these issues are having negative impacts on the mental health of our demographic. Moreover, from our conversation with organizations that work with refugees, we also found that these types of organizations are severely overworked.

To address the issues facing refugee students, we established three call to actions to put in place. First, we call for the implementation of refugee advisors at post-secondary institutions. Secondly, we call for refugee specific post-secondary jobs. Finally, we call for better online education support.

For more details regarding our findings, our calls to action, our literature review, and our external resources, email us at

How did the project come together? What inspired the idea?

We were intrigued by the intersections of being a refugee as well as being a student, as refugees are far less likely to be post-secondary students in Canada. There is a lack of research within this demographic, even prior to the pandemic. Therefore, we wanted to uncover the effects of COVID-19 on an already overlooked demographic.

Our largest takeaway is that refugee students are falling through the cracks. Thus, we used our project to amplify the voices of our demographic towards elected officials on municipal, provincial, and federal levels.

Support for Refugee Students Project Team Members


I study in the Global Resource Systems program at the University of British Columbia. I have always been interested in planning, civic engagement, and policy that supports diverse communities, with particular attention to those that have been underrepresented over the years. Through Semester in Dialogue, I got the opportunity to engage with youth and find ways to support them. I enjoy listening to people and hearing their stories, because I believe our unique stories make us who we are!


Hello there! My name is Emma and I am a fourth-year student at the University of Guelph. My major is in Business Management and I have a minor in International Development. I am the Chair of the UoG Local Committee with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), the Treasure for UoG Model United Nations, and the Events Coordinator for the Lang Sustainability Conference. I am now living in East Vancouver and have been lucky enough to be a part of SFU’s Semester in Dialogue. Here, I met my awesome teammates, giving us the opportunity to develop this meaningful project together.


Hello! My name is Mitchell, I am a Political Science major and International Studies minor at Simon Fraser University. I am also the Vice-President of the SFU Debate Society, former Vice-President of the SFU Canadian Cancer Society, and former Recruitment and Survivor Chair of SFU Relay-for-Life. I am so thankful to have taken part in this summer’s, Semester in Dialogue program, where I have been able to gain real-world experience.


I recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography and a minor in Political Science. I enrolled in the Semester in Democracy to better understand local politics here at home. My main areas of interest include environmental policy, transportation, and the integration of newcomers into Canada.


I aspire to be a moral entrepreneur and have recently received a B.A. in Political Science at Simon Fraser University. I have had experience in the non-profit sector with refugees and the environment. I am a first generation Eritrean Canadian and my passion to pursue civic responsibility stems from my roots. My father played a significant role in the Eritrean Independence war and claimed refugee status in Canada. I hope to utilize my privileges to empower refugees and asylum seekers.

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