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 benefitted 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 youth continue their education in their homeland and not leave Armenia for other countries.”
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the tuition fees for 380 Syrian Armenian undergraduate and graduate 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 undergraduates, who now make up the majority of university applicants. However, in order to allow as many Syrian Armenian 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 certain criteria.