Georgetown hosts public launch of State Dept. program for refugee students

On Sept. 12, Georgetown hosted the public launch of a U.S. State Department initiative called Welcome Corps on Campus, according to a university announcement. The program, created this July, helps higher education institutions sponsor international students admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and reduces barriers to their resettlement. Participating colleges and universities provide students with full tuition for their first year, living expenses, and support networks so they are set up to start their new lives in the U.S. The first student cohort, from East Africa and Jordan, will begin at higher education institutions in Fall 2024.

Related: Reducing barriers to higher education for Afghan women, refugee students >

“This work could not take place at a more urgent moment for our global family,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said at the event. “Each of us has a role to play in expanding access and opportunity around our globe. Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue an education. And all of us, no matter where we call home, are connected.”

DeGioia is a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance, an immigration-focused coalition of higher education leaders that is helping implement the Welcome Corps on Campus program. The initiative was based in part on a 2021 report from Presidents’ Alliance, which recommended the creation of a program that would allow colleges and universities to sponsor refugees. Georgetown was also one of 149 institutions and organizations to sign a statement of support for the program.

Related: U.S. colleges, advocacy groups working to support refugee students


Reducing barriers to student entry

Refugee students typically face multiple obstacles to higher education in the U.S. To attend college, refugees, in most cases, must demonstrate economic self-sufficiency and the ability to secure employment for themselves and their families. Refugee students who acquire a student visa must show that their college is providing financial support  for their entire education while having no clear path to permanent residency and citizenship.  

Welcome Corps on Campus, by providing a new pathway to higher education for refugee students, is “a historic and profound opportunity for students and campuses,” Miriam Feldblum, co-founder and executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance, said at the event. 

“Welcome Corps on Campus is a vitally important program that aligns with the Jesuit value of community in diversity,” said Thomas Banchoff, vice president for global engagement. “As a university committed to social justice and the common good, we are honored to participate.”

Read more about Georgetown’s commitment to supporting refugees.

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