US university welcomes Saudi students withdrawn from Canada
Portland showing great support for Saudi student stranded in a diplomatic spat with Canada. Source: Shutterstock

Canada has been portrayed a lot in recent news as the good guy benefiting from the US’s costly new stance on immigration, particularly when it comes to students.

It is welcoming students put-off by the prospects of studying in a country with a purportedly racist leader and graduates unable to land a work visa thanks to a tightening of visa rules like the H-1B and Optional Practical Training program.

The tables seem to have turned since early August, however, when it got into a diplomatic tiff with Saudi Arabia for criticising the Middle Eastern country’s abysmal human rights record. As a result, the kingdom has since ordered the approximately 7,000 Riyadh-funded students to withdraw from Canadian universities, to return to their home country or to be transferred elsewhere.

And suddenly an American school has emerged as an unlikely saviour, with news it is welcoming these students to its campus. Portland State University (PSU) has announced that it is making admission easier for the Saudi students ordered to leave their Canadian schools, Portland Mercury reported.

PSU spokesperson Kurt Bedell said: “We just feel for these students, some of them are just two credits short from graduating and don’t know what to do. We are just signaling our support to students from Saudi Arabia.”

A website dedicated to this has been set up, detailing the transfer process for undergraduate and graduate applicants.

It reads: “As an institution with a commitment to serving diverse learners, we are confident that PSU will provide an innovative environment for you to continue your studies.”

The assistance on offer promises a seamless transfer process, with the help of its admission counsellors and a team of academic and sponsored student advisors. Saudi students transferring from Canada universities would have to submit an online application and will not need to pay the undergraduate admission fee of US$52, which has been waived.

A similar process is in line for graduate applications.

There will be a dedicated advisor to help with the paperwork needed for the Saudi Ministry of Education and to be in communication with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission.

The proposition, it seems, has been received well.

Since last Wednesday, around 40 candidates have shown interest, with at least five Saudi students having put in their applications for fall 2018 and beyond, according to PSU’s International Admissions Counselor Karen Hanson.

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