Donation launches fund to provide university level English instruction for Syrian refugees

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A $15,000 donation has launched a fund that will support English language learning for Syrian refugees in the region. The donation to Renison University College, University of Waterloo, will cover tuition for refugees at Renison’s English Language Institute (ELI).

Principal Wendy Fletcher is encouraged by this donation. 

This most generous donation affirms Renison’s commitment in equipping all people, including newcomers, with the tools they need, language being one, to be as successful as possible,” says Fletcher.

Donors Dr. Barbara Schumacher and Carrol Hicks say they wanted to help make post-secondary education accessible to incoming refugees, and university-level English skills are part of that.

We have made this donation as a positive step in helping the Syrian refugees settle into their new lives as quickly as possible,” says Schumacher. “Renison, at the University of Waterloo is well known as an inclusive, nurturing community and is well positioned to support those new to our city. Transitioning into a new country is full of challenges and if we can help remove one of those challenges by providing language instruction in a welcoming environment, then we feel we have helped to make a difference.”

Renison’s ELI offers English language programming for students aged 17+ at various levels of English proficiency. Some courses are for students with little or no English experience, while others are geared for students completing undergraduate or graduate degrees at the University of Waterloo. Students studying at Renison’s ELI will have an opportunity to improve their English language skills in a friendly and welcoming academic environment. Refugees interested in any ELI programs can apply for a bursary, and, depending on their level of English, start attending classes within a month.

The initial donation is enough to cover a year of tuition for two students who have little English experience or knowledge, taking them through three different programs: General English at Renison (GEAR), English for Success (EFS), and English for Academic Success (EFAS). A student who completes the 400 level of EFAS with a 75% average would satisfy the University of Waterloo’s English Language Requirement for admission into its undergraduate or graduate degree programs.

The exact number of students who can participate through this program depends on what level of English the applicants have; the fund can help two students through the whole process or possibly more if some are eligible to enrol in classes at a higher level, requiring fewer courses in total.

If you would like to donate to this fund, please contact Caroline Tanswell. If you are interested in applying for a bursary, please contact Michele Parrott at, 519-884-4404 ext. 28692.

About the Renison English Language Institute

The Renison English Language Institute (Renison ELI) has offered high quality English as a second language (ESL) programs and courses since 1970. We welcome more than 1000 students each year to Renison University College.

We are also proud to be the official ESL provider of the University of Waterloo, ranked Canada’s most innovative university for 22 years in a row.

Housed within Renison ELI are the English Language Centre (ELC) and English Language Studies (ELS). We invite you to explore our programs and courses, and look forward to welcoming you to the Renison community.

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