LINCOLN PARK — DePaul University has joined with more than 30 universities and colleges around the world to support Syrian students as the country remains locked in a civil war.
The school has pledged to take in and cover the costs for a doctoral student from Syria while opening up online courses free of charge to a larger group of students.
The number of students who will be eligible for the 500 online courses DePaul offers is being negotiated, said GianMario Besana, DePaul's associate vice president for academic affairs.
"If students have left Syria and are somewhere else in the world with a decent internet connection, they can join some classes online," he said, adding that he hopes to have students enrolled online between December and January.
Syrian labs and classrooms have been destroyed during attacks on universities, according to the Institute of International Education. Entire campuses have been closed and mortar shells are stopping students whose campuses remain open from getting to class, according to the organization.
The Institute of International Education teamed up with the Illinois Institute of Technology and Jusoor, a Syrian non-for-profit organization, to pledge the support of Syrian higher education and put out a call for support in September.
Some Syrian students have already begun studies at IIT, but the student who will be studying in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul has not been selected.
Besana said the the Institute of International Education is pairing Syrian students up with the participating universities, and he expects the student to be in Chicago by early next year.
"It was an easy decision for us," Besana said. "It fits very well with what DePaul is all about."
He said it will be the first time the university takes on a student due to an international crisis, but DePaul was prepared to support Libyan students studying in the United States last year when the regime fell.
"There was a moment that it looked like the Libyan students who were supported by the Libyan government funds were going to have problems staying in the United States, and we were ready to support them," Besana said.