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Editorial | Limited steps forward

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 09:12

Within the last few weeks, the Tufts Office of Undergraduate Admissions granted the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate’s proposal for the university to join the Institute of International Education (IIE) Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis. This initiative aims to help Syrian students who have been displaced connect with American institutions. There are over thirty American institutions that are currently working with the organization to scout qualified applicants from Syria and offer them academic scholarships. In 2012, the IIE Consortium gathered together 39 institutions to commit 150 scholarships. The result was that 13 universities granted a total of 70 scholarships to Syrian students. The organization plans to expand and open up its online application portal for a second round of applicants in January 2014.

These 70 accepted students were matched to their respective universities via the IIE’s online portal. This means that the students all had access to a computer in order to connect to their university. Moreover, the Syrian applicants underwent the same application process that all other university applicants underwent and were only granted admission because they were as qualified as their peers. There were between 5,000 and 6,000 Syrian applicants, and out of these applicants, only 70 were actually granted admission to a university. The organization does not have any offices or outreach groups located in Syria or its surrounding countries. Thus, the organization and the 30+ institutions involved with it are only able to reach out to the wealthiest people within the poorest group.

It is no surprise that only 70 out of thousands of applicants were granted admission to American universities. These students are competing with applicants with years of excellent education under their belts. These Syrian applicants are students who have been uprooted from their homes and driven from their country. There is no way for them to have received an education that is of the same caliber as their fellow applicants’. 

Because it is nearly impossible for Tufts to send admissions representatives to Syria to recruit potential students, this organization is the best chance for the university to extend admission to those who cannot pay or would not otherwise even know about an institution like Tufts. What is most disturbing is that this is the most that Tufts and other universities like it can do. There is so much untapped potential in countries like Syria, and there is no way to possibly reach out to all of the qualified candidates, as many of them lack ample access to technological and financial resources. Though the TCU Senate and Admissions deserve commendation for their efforts, it is a sad truth that there is simply no way to aid the thousands of other students who deserve higher education yet have no way to attain it, or even qualify for it.

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