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Erin Kuepfer
Communications Assistant
Thu, 10/31/2019 - 09:30

What is the SRP?

The Student Refugee Program (SRP) has been in place at the University of Waterloo since passing a 2006 referendum. Aimed at giving refugees the opportunity to obtain a university education and educating UWaterloo students on the plight of refugees, the program is partnered with World University Services Canada [external link].

Everyday students like us play a vital role in the success of the program across Canadian universities. Our contributions to the SRP fee help to cover refugee students’ tuition and living expenses–ensuring that every student, regardless of background, can participate in the incredible UWaterloo experience. Up until this fall 2019 term students have been charged a refundable $1.00 fee on their student bill, which became optional online at $1.03 in fall.

"The Student Refugee Program makes a substantial difference to improve the lives of refugee students and support them here at Waterloo; WUSA is proud to support this program."

"The Student Refugee Program makes a substantial difference to improve the lives of refugee students and support them here at Waterloo; the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association is proud to support this program,” says Vice President Operations and Finance Seneca Velling, who also played a major role in rehabilitating the financial position of the program and preparing it for online opt-outs.

Why is the SRP important?

Welcoming students at the airportThrough the hard work and contributions of UWaterloo stakeholders, the Federated & Affiliated Colleges, staff and students the SRP has been able to change the lives of refugees, welcoming 17 SRP students to the university since 2006. Being a refugee comes with a handful of personal struggles–everything from adapting to a foreign culture, to living thousands of miles away from friends and family back home. Access to education should not be one of those struggles, and that’s what the Student Refugee Program aims to achieve.

Through student life at UWaterloo the SRP gives sponsored students a chance to make lifelong friends, develop their talents and personalities, and gain life-enriching knowledge at one of the best institutions out there! UWaterloo students are also made better because of the SRP. Sponsored students, with their insight and knowledge, can enrich student life as much as student life enriches them.

What are the changes?

The SRP fee will be increasing from its original price to $4.95 ($4.82 with 2.5% admin overhead to support accounting and direct program management) beginning winter 2020. These increases are the result of expenses of the program being greater than its revenue for the last number of years, with differences being covered off through support of on-campus partners. In order to close these financial gaps, the SRP must turn to UWaterloo students for greater assistance.

Student Refugee ProgramThe general timeline of the fee changes is featured below:

  • August 17, 2019– Velling identifies a serious working capital shortage in the SRP Administered Fund. Such concerns are taken to Students' Council. Refer to page five of the Federation of Students Council Agenda for the motion.
  •  August 21, 2019– WUSA Board of Directors passed a motion:

Be it resolved that the Board accepts the recommendation of the Students’ Council to increment the optional Student Refugee Program administered fee to $4.82 to reflect the financial position of the fund and the required program expansion directed by the Students’ Council.”[SV1]

The meeting Agenda, which includes Velling’s original SRP Report Proposal for the August 17 Students’ Council meeting, and Minutes detail the nature of the meeting.

  • September 15, 2019– Students’ Council unanimously ratified the Board-approved increase. Details found in section 3.1 of the meeting Agenda.

We are very lucky to be students of UWaterloo, and others should be able to share in that experience. While the SRP fee remains optional, keep in mind that donating your $4.95 will go a long way in changing the lives of sponsored students and their peers alike. The magnitude of the fee and the SRP program in creating an accessible and inviting community for student refugees is immeasurable.