Syrian-Armenian Students of Armenian Universities Held a Congress at the RA Diaspora Ministry

As the number of Syrian Armenian students arriving in Armenia continues to grow, AGBU is taking measures to ensure that their education does not suffer as a result of their displacement. Considering AGBU’s commitment to support Syrian Armenians in Armenia, the Union plans to cover tuition fees for Syrian Armenian students during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years by allocating $130,000 each year to the initiative. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation will also provide an additional $130,000 annually, while the government of the Republic of Armenia has agreed to offer additional funds as well as significantly reduced tuition for Syrian Armenian students. AGBU Armenia’s interim director Hovig Eordekian sees this program is an essential step in reversing the brain drain that continues to afflict the Republic of Armenia: “In October 2013, all Syrian Armenian students who submitted the corresponding papers from their universities benefited from this program. Taking into consideration the vitality and urgency of the matter, the parties have committed to continue the program for the next two academic years. This important educational initiative will help Syrian Armenian students continue their education in their homeland and not leave Armenia for other countries.” During the 2013-2014 academic year, the tuition fees of 380 undergraduate and graduate Syrian-Armenian university students studying in Armenia were covered by a joint project by AGBU, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the RA Ministry of Diaspora and the RA Ministry of Education. The parties have now agreed to give preference to undergraduate students, who now make up the majority of university applicants. However, in order to allow as many students as possible to continue their education in Armenia within the budget allocated, the parties are currently discussing the possibility of covering the tuition of graduate students who meet the necessary criteria.

On December 3rd, a conference of Syrian-Armenian students studying in Armenia, entitled Displacement, Education, and Commitment was held at the RA Diaspora Ministry. The conference was organized by the Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center NGO with the support of the UNHCR Office in Armenia and under the patronage of the RA Ministry of Diaspora. Among the participants of the conference were RA Minister of Diaspora Hranoush Hakobyan, Representative of the Office of the UNHCR in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth, Rector of the Mkhitar Heratsi Yerevan State Medical University Mikayel Narimanyan, AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, President of the Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center NGO Lena Haladjian and representatives of various universities. Greeting the participants of the conference, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan expressed gratitude to the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for their active support in covering the tuition fees of Syrian-Armenian students. The UNHCR Representative in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth stressed that education is a long-term investment and added that the tuition assistance is provided in different amounts, depending on the student’s or their family’s needs. He also spoke about the importance of providing students with jobs and organizing training courses. AGBU Interim Director Hovig Eordekian in his speech mentioned that the collaboration between the Government and pan-Armenian organizations to solve key issues concerning Syrian-Armenian students has become one of the best manifestations of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership of the past three years. Mr. Eordekian also added that AGBU has a long history of providing scholarships and will continue the scholarship program in the future. Speeches were also made by the Rector of Yerevan State Medical University Mikayel Narimanyan, senior specialist of Foreign Relations’ and Diaspora Department at the RA Ministry of Education and Science Amalya Kocharyan, cardiologist at Nairi Medical Center George Barseghian, Head of the Foreign Students’ Devision of the International Relations’ Department at the Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction Tatevik Hakobyan and others. Syrian-Armenian students Lara Yeramian (Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction), Vrouyr Bilemjian (Yerevan State Medical University), Harout Donoian (Armenian State University of Economics) and Alexan Kalayji (Yerevan State University) also shared their views on educational issues.


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