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Syrians turn to crowdfunding platform

Syrian students unable to access funding through conventional means are turning to a crowdfunding platform to raise money to study abroad. 

Tareq Layka, a Syrian student, is using the platform to fund his studies in the UK. Photo: edSeed

edSeed notes that less than 1% of refugees have access to higher education funding

edSeed is a social crowdfunding network that supports refugee students seeking funding and mentorship for higher education. 

“Being in Syria already dehumanises you no matter how skilled, knowledgeable, or ambitious you are”

Access to funding for Syrian students is a significant challenge, with lenders often unable to give out loans. Sanctions also provide a barrier for students who are trying to access education. 

To ensure transparency and financial compliance the platform verifies student enrolment and sends raised funds directly to educational institutions.

“My great international team of mentors and friends and I contacted many other crowdfunding platforms, but our requests were declined,” Tareq Layka, a Syrian student who is enrolled to study a MSc in Global Health and Social Justice at King’s College London, told The PIE News. 

“The main reason is over-compliance with the US sanctions on Syria; fearing that the platforms will be in breach of these sanctions by launching a Syrian person’s campaign, even though we repeatedly assured them we are not transferring the money to Syria; instead, it goes straight to the educational institution. 

“Other platforms requested that I have a bank account in my name, which is also unavailable for me as a Syrian. edSeed is very cooperative with a less complicated process. As a result, we were able to launch the campaign in a very short time,” he added. 

On its website, edSeed notes that less than 1% of refugees have access to higher education funding. While there are companies, such as MPOWER Financing, that provide loans for international students, none currently are able to offer funding for Syrian students. 

“MPOWER Financing is the leading provider of scholarships and no-cosigner loans to students from ~200 countries around the world studying in the US and Canada,” Sasha Ramani, CFA associate director of strategy, told The PIE. 

“While we don’t support students from every country or those studying in the UK, we’re passionate and committed to supporting an ever-growing number of students.”

Layka, who is currently raising money on the platform for his studies, explained the impact that the war in his country has had on students who are trying to study abroad. 

“It is a sad, unfortunate reality. As the war in Syria enters its 11th year, less and less focus is on improving the education of Syrians,” he said. 

“Moreover, most of the few opportunities available are officially or unofficially selective, meaning they would support Syrians of a particular identity or location, mostly outside Syria. Whereas for Syrians inside, like me, we are stripped of most opportunities; educational, professional and others.”

Layka said that he and the people who were trying to help him raise money for his studies had contacted over 50 organisations such as foundations, funds, scholarships, but had no luck. 

“Being in Syria already dehumanises you no matter how skilled, knowledgeable, or ambitious you are,” he added. 

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